Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 4/5/2011

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: Three years since the accident that took Mia's family and changed her life, Adam and Mia have gone down separate paths. Shortly after beginning her school year at Julliard Mia cut off all contact with Adam with not warning. Since then Adam has wondered what exactly happened to her-and to them.

Adam is a rising rock star and his band, Shooting Star, is a worldwide sensation. Adam is dating a beautiful actress and on the outside appears to have a fabulous life. But he's miserable. All of his songs are about his grief over loosing Mia, but he can't talk about it with anyone.

Mia is a rising star at Julliard and about to take off on her first tour. One fateful evening bring Mia and Adam together before their worlds separate again.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: When I first heard that Gayle Forman was writing a sequel to If I Stay, I was excited but I kept thinking, "huh, it didn't really need a sequel." Boy was I wrong!

Where She Went is told from Adam's point of view this time around. Much like If I Stay, the book is told with flashbacks so we know more about Adam and Mia's relationship, what happened after the accident, and what sent Adam into his spiral downward. Yes, Adam is emo at times (he is an emo rock star after all!). But I found his side of the story to be very interesting. He lost Mia's family as well and then lost Mia. His grief is understandable-he has an incredible pain to deal with but no one to guide him through it but himself. He also is struggling with his conflicting emotions over the fact that his success is based out of his grief. On top of all that, Adam is dealing with the fact that he told Mia he would let her go, but how do you truly let someone go? So mix that all up, and it's understandable why he's so emo throughout.

I'll admit that for the first part of the book, I wasn't sure what I thought. I don't know, but maybe it was Adam's backstory and the beginning and how he starts out sort of whiny. I wanted to know what happened, but everything is slowly revealed. I don't know what happened or how the author pulled it off, but about halfway through the book I realized that just like Adam, I needed closure to Adam and Mia's relationship. I needed to know what happened next and what made Mia just up and leave. I needed to know how they were moving on, how they were coping. I needed them to come together again for just one evening and figure out where things went wrong. The fact that the author could connect me to the characters in this way made me love the book more. I was pulled in and I needed Adam and Mia to work through their grief and move on so I could move on as well.

Ultimately, this is an emotional story and the writing is raw and beautiful. I was sucked into Adam and Mia's story. Much like in If I Stay, I felt the pain of losing Mia's family, in Where She Went, I felt the aftermath. I connected with the characters and I felt like they were part of me, making the book even that more powerful. It's not an everything perfect is ending, but it worked for me and I was happy to have that closure, even if at first I didn't know I needed it.

A beautiful sequel that surprised me. Where She Went is a book worth reading. I'm so glad Gayle Forman wasn't done with the story!

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC I recieved at ALA

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Adult Lit: The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Thriller/Mystery/Contemporary

Release Date: 1/5/2010

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: Michael is what's known as "boxman"-he has a talent for cracking safes. He was trained by The Ghost and works for a man in Detroit taking boxman jobs for hire. When he gets a call, he goes. As a kid, Michael survived a family tragedy during his childhood but hasn't uttered a word since, which makes him perfect as his job because he will never tell on anyone. Michael is passing his time by writing his story and recounting the journey that landed him in prison nine years ago. Told in alternating timelines, this is Michael's story of how he became a boxman and the strange events that followed.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This is a unique crime thriller. The book is told in alternating timelines-the first is the story leading up to Michael becoming a boxman (1992-1999) and the second is a narrative of the jobs he takes (2000). This adds to the suspense of the story because things are slowly revealed in the 2000 timeline and then a little bit later we get the backstory of how that happened. In some ways we're one step ahead of the story until the end when the timelines start to connect. This is a effective device as it gives the reader a chance to try and piece together the story before Michael gets there.

Michael is an interesting narrator because he doesn't talk, so his interactions with others are interesting to read about. We know Michael's voice and his snarky comments, but the other characters don't. Michael expresses himself through art to his crush Amelia, and they communicate through comic panels they draw each other.

I was surprised a bit by how much I liked The Lock Artist. It was an inventive story and I liked reading about Michael's safe cracking skills. Anyone who is a fan of crime fiction should pick this one up. This was also on the 2011 Alex Awards list and I could see this having appeal for older teens. especially teens who like mysteries.

I listened to this one on audio and really enjoyed-fantastic narrator and he had a great snarky voice to Michael. I wasn't sure if I would like it on audio, since Michael is a non-speaking character, but it never felt weird and I liked hearing Michael's voice when the other characters couldn't.

Book Pairings:
For some reason this book really reminded me of White Cat by Holly Black, even though they aren't that similar. Just the crime aspect of the book makes me think they will appeal to the same readers.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook I borrowed from my local library

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tween Tuesday: The Invisible Order: Rise of the Darklings by Paul Crilley

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted right here at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens. Add your Tween Tuesday post below!

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Historical/Fantasy

Release Date: 9/28/2010

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: Emily Snow's parents have disappeared and for the past two years she has been in charge of her younger brother and making sure they survive. One morning, Emily encounters a conversation between strange beings and realizes she can see a entire hidden world in London, full of faeries. A war is raging between faeries. As Emily's brother is kidnapped, Emily must do everything she can to save him. But what side is good? What side will not destroy humankind? Emily must find the key to save her brother and help save London before faeries take over.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: This is quite the twisty mystery/fantasy for middle grade readers. The book starts out much like your usual fantasy novel, but soon the story starts to take many twists and turns. Who is good? Who can Emily trust? And which path is the correct one? The entire book is like one giant riddle which is sure to keep readers engaged.

I will admit that I grew a bit tired of the "can I trust this person/what side is right" as it kept going. Just when you think you have it figured out, it changes, so it keeps readers on their toes, that's for sure! I also wish that many of the supporting characters had been fleshed out a bit more. As Emily's brother was kidnapped, I knew I was supposed to care, but I didn't really know much about him, other than he was Emily's brother, to be upset that he was missing. I do really love the piskie Corrigan and he was my favorite character. Scenes with him always provided a good laugh and he was one of the few characters we get to really know. There were so many great characters that we were introduced to, but we only see them for a small portion of the book. I hope that since this is the start to a series, we see more of them as the series progresses.

I picked this one up originally because Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan told me about a review that mentioned The Invisible Order had the makings to be the next Harry Potter. While I don't think it's quite there, it could grow and become a great series that keeps you guessing. I do think it would be great for Harry Potter fans looking for another series to get into, but I'm not sure how much older reader appeal there is.

It's obviously a series, and while many things are wrapped up in this book, there is a cliffhanger ending and many things are left wide open. Book two will be out in September, so if you do get readers started on this series, they'll have a bit of a wait between installments. But that's part of the fun, right?

Book Pairings: Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, Barnaby Grimes Series by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audibook purchased from Audible

Monday, March 28, 2011

Library Programs: Teen Read-A-Thon

Friday night was the third teen Read-A-Thon I've hosted at my library. I posted about it on Facebook and Twitter and I heard from several librarians who wanted to know more-so here it is!

The Read-A-Thon was inspired by

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon and the 48 Hour Book Challenge. I had been talking to one of my teens how I was participating in a read-a-thon through my blog and she got very excited and said we should do one at the library.

Set Up:

Of course, we have to do it on a smaller scale at the library since I can't lock the teens in the building for 24 hours. So typically our read-a-thons run 2-3 hours, which seems to work well. I set up the group in one of the library meeting rooms and set up chairs and tables all around the room. I've brought in pillows and blankets in the past for the teens who want a more comfortable place to sit, but the teens are fine with sitting in the chairs or at the tables and reading. At each table I have a small stack of books, notecards and pens. I also order pizza and have snacks on hand for the teens and they come and go to the snack table throughout the evening.

Running the Program:

At the start of the event, I have the teens fill out a prize drawing entry form, since I'll be giving out prizes throughout the night. The first thing we do is "Book Speed Dating." The teens sit down at a table and I give them one minute to look through a book, make notes on the notecards and decide if they want to "date" that book. Then they switch. Some of the teens picked up books from the speed dating to check out or read that evening. Other teens came with a stack of books ready to read. I always make sure I have lots of books on hand for the teens who need something to read and very often these books get browsed and checked out after the event.

Then we read-simple as that! Everyone grabs a place to read and we read our books. I have the teens write down what page they start on and keep track of how many pages they read throughout the night. I also have them keep track of if they finished a book (doesn't matter if they had it started already or not before the event) and how many books they start that evening.

After about an hour I give out the first round of prizes. The prize table has books, bookmarks (some signed bookmarks that I've been able to collect), tote bags from ALA conferences-pretty much anything I can gather that I think will appeal to my core reader crowd. I draw names and let them select a prize. Since I haven't had huge crowds for any of my read-a-thons, I end up letting each teen select a prize since I have a large amount of prizes.

Then it's back to reading again! After about another hour of reading, it's break and prize time round two. Then we read a bit more, I call time and we pack up our stuff and head home. Friday nights teens (ten teens, one librarian) read 1,493 pages, finished 5 books and started (or continued) 11 books it just over two hours.

It's a simple program to run and the teens LOVE it! It appeals to the reader crowd already and honestly, it's not going to be a program that non-readers are going to get excited about it. It's a reader-centric program. But the group that I have that come are dedicated readers who love having a place to read-and know that there are other readers just like them. It's also a great opportunity to talk about what they're reading. During each of our breaks, I ask how everyone's book is, if they're enjoying it, would they recommend it, etc. It makes reading a more social event and I think that's why it's been popular. At the end of the evening, I had teens asking when the next one will be, which is always a good sign! I've even had staff ask if we can host an adult Read-A-Thon, so maybe a giant library Read-A-Thon is in our future!!:)

My next Read-A-Thon event will be hosted in June as a kick off to summer reading. I've hosted them during Teen Read Week, Spring Break and Winter Break. (Break time seems to work best since the teens have more free time and are pretty bored and looking for something to do).

Questions? Want to know more? Do you run a Read-A-Thon too? Let me know!

Friday, March 25, 2011

YA Movie News: Peeta and Gale

News has been released about the actors who are in the running for Peeta and Gale in The Hunger Games movie. I'm rooting for Hunter Parrish because to me, he just looks like Peeta. And I have to say I'm very happy that Alex Pettyfer isn't on the list-I just don't think he could pull of the charm of Peeta! Maybe this leaves him open for The Mortal Instruments movie??
Hopefully we'll get our Peet and Gale cast soon-who are you rooting for?
And for a random fun link, I love this interview with Emma Roberts. I think she might be my new favorite star for her gushing over YA books!

YA Movie News

-Twentieth Century Fox picked up the rights to the upcoming YA novel Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. The novel will be published in November by HarperTeen. The story is a romantic thriller about a teen who can kill people with her touch. Thanks to Cynopsis Kids for the news.

-Summit Entertainment picked up the rights to Veronica Roth's debut, Divergent. The book will be published in May by HarperCollins.

-The Last Apprentice Series by Joseph Delaney is being adapted by Warner Brothers/Legendary Pictures and could possibly be a film franchise. The movie is based on the first book in the series, Revenge of the Witch, but is now being called The Seventh Son. Julianne Moore has been cast to play Mother Malkin, an evil witch, and Jeff Bridges is set to play Master Gregory, mentor to the young apprentice.

-A Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters movie could be in the works. The film is in very early stages, but stay hopefully Percy fans-there may be more coming to the big screen.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Congrats to Lenore!!

I'd like to give a big HUGE congratulations to Lenore (of the fantastic blog Presenting Lenore!) As some of you might know, Lenore is also a writer as well as a blogger and reviewer. I opened my e-mail today and saw this blurb from Publisher's Weekly:

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers has acquired a YA novel called Level Two by Lenore Appelhans, in a joint acquisition with CBS Films. According to S&S, this is the first time the company has coordinated a deal so that an author received a simultaneous book and film offer. In Level Two, the liminal place between our world (Level One) and heaven, Felicia spends her days reliving her memories from the security of her pod—until she gets broken out by Julian, a boy she met on Earth. Appelhans writes the popular YA blog Presenting Lenore. Level Two will be published in either fall 2012 or spring 2013, with a 200,000-copy first printing.

OMG!! I immediately did a happy dance in Lenore's honor! I am so so thrilled for her and I can't wait to read her book! I also think this news comes on the most perfect of days. I'm celebrating my blogoversary, and Lenore is the first person I remember commenting on my blog and really encouraging me to keep going. I knew I had to blog because someone out there was reading it. So I owe a lot of my blogging to Lenore and her encouragement. So thank you for being so awesome and CONGRATS!!

Happy Blogoversary To Me!!

Wow! Can you believe this month celebrates three years of blogging at GreenBeanTeenQueen?? I can't believe I've been blogging that long! Of course when I first started blogging, I was very spotty in my posts and my reviews were pretty short. It took me about a year to really get the hang of it I feel like after two years I've finally found a good blog groove.

That's not to say it's all be flowers and cake and happiness all along! I love blogging, but at times it can be stressful and very, very hard! There are moments when I've wanted to quit, moments when I've stressed over what to post or read, and hated that my TBR pile is a never ending mountain of books. I love the blogging world, but at times it can be full of bitterness, jealously and backstabbing, which I really, really hate. But the blogging world is also full of wonderful people who connect and share over books, support each other and are some of the greatest people I've ever met! I also love the opportunities that blogging has brought me and the connections I've made. And I've read some amazing books I don't think I would have ever picked up otherwise and engaged in awesome conversations about YA and book and library world. So I guess I'll take the bad and the good because I really can't stop-blogging is too addicting!;)

Of course, it's not a true celebration without a party-and I'm giving you the presents!!! I have the best readers (I'm still amazed and shocked I even have readers, honestly!)

So I want to reward you for sticking with me and encouraging me to keep on blogging. Nothing is more exciting than getting books, right?

So to thank you, I will reward one lucky winner with $50 (US Dollars) to spend at!!
-OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!! (well, at least to anywhere Book Depository ships!)
-Must be 13+ to enter
-One entry per person please-duplicates will be erased
-Contest ends April 1, midnight (CT)
Good luck-and THANK YOU for making me love blogging!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Love Kelly Day

Kelly is a very awesome blogger, librarian and good friend of mine. Right now, Kelly is dealing with some very nasty budget issues in the state of Wisconsin, so a group of us got together to declare today "I Love Kelly Day!"

Kelly blogs at Stacked Books and I love reading her reviews! Her reviews always get me thinking, which I love, and she really writes from her librarian heart. Not only that, but she loves contemporary fiction and is constantly giving me a kick in the butt to read more contemps!

I honestly don't remember how Kelly and I first met-somehow we connected via blogs and Twitter. But we're librarians, we love books, and we were both heading to ALA, and our friendship took off. Now I'm lucky to count Kelly among my dear librarian friends (and a fellow member of the ILOAS!)

So here's to you Kelly! Sending you lots of virtual hugs (and cocktails!)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy Release Day Wither!

Back in February I reviewed Lauren DeStefano's fabulous debut, Wither. Wither is out now, so be sure to check it out! And of course, come back and let me know what you think!:)

Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Mashup/Humor

Release Date: 3/22/11

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: Four years after the events of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have settled into life at Pemberly. But on a walk Mr. Darcy is attacked by a dreadful and falls into the strange plague. Elizabeth knows that the correct response is to behead her husband, but she can't bring herself to do it. She enlists the help of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who claims there may be a cure and Elizabeth must go after it, using her womanly wiles to seduce Sir Angus MacFarquhar, who holds the key to the cure. Enlisting the help of her sisters, Elizabeth must go undercover to save her husband.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Dreadfully Ever After completes the story of Elizabeth and Darcy and their escapades with dreadfuls. This is a hilarious take on what happens next. I hadn't read any of the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies books until my mom told me they were hilarious and I needed to pick them up-and if Momma GreenBean tells you to read a book, you have to read it-especially since I didn't think my mom was a zombie fan at all! So I listened to Momma GreenBean and I'm so glad I did-this book was hilarious!!

The book maintains the feel of the original it's based on, but adds dreadfuls, ninjas, warriors and fighting into the story seamlessly. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments-the dialogue is prim and proper, yet funny, and it makes the book so much fun. Kitty and Mary join Elizabeth in this adventure and I was glad to see their characters a bit more fleshed out-they always seem to get overlooked.

This is a sequel and the end to the triology, but the book can stand on it's own. If the story has to wrap up, I think this is the way it should end! We get one last adventure with our favorite characters, they're spunky and sassy, and there's a bit of romance as well. Elizabeth's final battle with Lady Catherine is exactly what readers have been waiting for and doesn't disappoint.

A fantastic end to the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies story and very fun read!

Quirk Classics is giving away eight Dreadful Antidote Pendants to fans of the Dreadfully Ever After Facebook page-like the page and you're entered to win!

Tween Tuesday: Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens! Join the fun and share you posts below!

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 6/9/2009

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: Eleven-year-old Aubrey is barely surviving. Her younger sister and her father were killed in a car accident and her mother has left Aubrey-and hasn't come back. When Gram discovers that Aubrey is by herself, she brings Aubrey with her to Vermont. Aubrey writes letters to help deal with everything that is going on around her. Aubrey slowly makes friends and talks to the school counselor, but healing is a long process.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I read Love, Aubrey because it's on our state book award list for 4th-6th grade. I think this is a book that is going to split readers-either they will like it or not.

I remember when this book first came out and there was Newbery buzz surrounding it. It reads a bit like a typical Newbery-character is dealing with a tough/serious/sad issue, has a family problem, is cut off at first but learns to heal and overcome said issue-add in a strong main character, a few heartfelt moments, and friends that help the character (and a cute animal character is always a plus!)

So I was a bit mixed on if I liked this one or not. The typical award formula was a bit too much for me. It's a very good book and very well written. The author tackles tough issues, especially for a tween novel, and handles them delicately. She's also never message heavy which I think readers will appreciate. Aubrey is a bit of a difficult narrator because her grief is so heavy and that takes a toll on the reader, which I think is part of why I didn't enjoy this book as much as I could have. I listened to the book on audio, and this especially made listening to the book very hard. The narrator gives Aubrey a scratchy, sad voice, which makes listening to the book a bit depressing. I also wonder if readers will get tired of Aubrey and not stick with the book-it look me awhile to like her.

I love the character of Bridget and she is an incredible friend for Aubrey. She was my favorite character in the book and I wish the world had more people like Bridget who are caring and understanding-no matter what. She's a great character for young readers to meet but at the same time I wonder how realistic Bridget is.

Readers who stick with the book will be rewarded though. Readers go through the healing process with Aubrey and through this I felt I liked Aubrey more. I don't know that this will be a favorite on the Mark Twain Award list, but I think it will have a small select fan base, especially with readers who enjoy contemporary novels. It wasn't my favorite book on the list, but I can see readers who need this book, hard as it might be to read.

Book Pairings: Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles (another MG book dealing with grief and it just reminded me of this book-not sure why), Keeper by Kathi Appelt (abandonment, mothers)

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook CD checked out from my local library

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Top Five Printz Books

My fabulous friend Abby (of Abby the Librarian fame) asked me what my Top 5 Printz books were, since I'm running for a spot on the 2013 Printz Committee (YALSA members-I'd love your vote!) It was a tough question to answer, but I narrowed my list down to five. Check out Abby's blog for the GreenBeanTeenQueen Top 5 Printz Books!

Bloggers on the YALSA Ballot

Hey librarians and YALSA members! The election has opened up and I wanted to share a couple of my friends and fellow bloggers that are on the ballot! Angie Manfredi and Jennifer Rothschild are both on the ballot for the Nonfiction Award Committee. Angie blogs at FatGirlReading and Jennie blogs at Biblio File. Check out their blogs because they rock! And of course, to convince you further of their awesomeness, I have interviews with both of them!:)

-What do you enjoy about NF?

Angie: There's a lot of answers to that, I guess, but for me it keeps coming back to me is how much I enjoy watching teens interact with non-fiction. There's just something about seeing reluctant readers pulled into the immediate truth of a non-fiction title or hearing teens "ooh" and "aah" over a non-fiction book full of pictures and facts. I love that non-fiction is a way for teens to experience literature and books in an entirely unique way, a way that lets them see the world, their world, in an whole different light.

Jennie: As they say, truth is stranger than fiction. I love that you get all the drama and tension, heartbreak and laughter that you get in fiction, but it's all true! I like that we get different stories, but also different ways to tell a story. Some narratives read like novels, some really use design-- photographs, graphs, side bars and pull-out boxes. I love the variety both in subject matter and in visual representation.

I think the role of nonfiction often gets overlooked. Many times teens read a fiction book and want to know more about what was going on in the book and turn to nonfiction for more background information.

When I was a teen, I was obsessed with disease and virology. Books like Outbreak by Robin Cook and Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton were great, but the ones I really turned to were the Nonfiction-- Hot Zone by Richard Preston and And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts were huge influences on me. For a number of years, I really wanted to go into virology as a field.

-What past book would you award the NF award to?

Angie: So many good choices but definitely the first on my list is No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row by Susan Kuklin because it's so powerful and so well written and researched and balanced and well documented and engaging and appealing. It's one of my favorite teen titles of all time, period.

Jennie: I'm very pleased with last year's and this year's winners*, so I'm going to list books that came out before the award was created (that's not cheating, is it?).

Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (who won an honor this year with They Called Themselves the KKK)
What the World Eats by Faith D'Aluisio and Peter Menzel
George Washington, Spy Master by Thomas B. Allen

Also, I think a lot of great nonfiction books for teens were being published as adult books. Some of my favorite adult titles for teens are

This is Paradise by Hyok Kang, Philippe Grangereau and Shaun Whiteside
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Persepolis by Marjana Satrapi
Ten Green Bottles by Vivian Jeanette Kaplan
The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

*Ok, I was surprised there wasn't any love for Secret of the Yellow Death by Suzanne Jurmain, but the books the committee did choose are so awesome, so I'm not complaining.

Why do you think the NF award is important?

Angie: Well, I know it's made my library's collection so much stronger! It's hard to keep up with non-fiction sometimes, especially because non-fiction geared for teens and not children or adults is a newer genre, but the award is a reminder of how truly diverse and great the field is now, which can help encourage librarians, teachers, parents, the general audience to buy more non-fiction and feature it more too. I started booktalking Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman (2009's winner) and was gratified to see so many teens want to check it out and subsequently love it. I might never have been encouraged to do that without the reminder from the Non-Fiction Award committee that, hey, this book is out there and it's special and it speaks to teens. That's why these YALSA awards exist and matter, after all. And, of course, hopefully it will raise the profile of the genre and encourage publishers to publish MORE of the good stuff!

Jennie: First off, I think nonfiction is very important. It teaches us about the world around us and within us. It offers insights and entertains. Because of this, it's worth celebrating.

Beyond that, in the last few years, we've seen an explosion of nonfiction titles for teens. Nonfiction fans have been blessed with more selection than ever. But! As with any explosion of titles, there's a lot of variance in quality. I think this award, coupled with the list of vetted nominations, is useful to highlight the best of the best, but it also shows publishers and authors examples of what truly great nonfiction can look like. I think the list is also a really useful selection tool for librarians, especially in a time when everyone is dealing with extremely limited acquisitions budgets.

-What are some of your favorite YA NF reads?

Angie: Thanks to the 2011 Excellence in Non-Fiction Nominations list, I discovered Lerner's great series Civil Rights Struggles Around the World, which has a truly fantastic set of titles about a wide variety of Civil Rights struggles throughout history, including often ignored movements. The books are well-written, unique, engaging, inspiring, and good for both report-writers and readers who just love non-fiction for the great, true stories it has to tell. We Stand as One: The International Ladies Garment Workers Strike, New York, 1909 was so good it gave me goosebumps!

Jennie: Everything listed already in these answers. Also, it's more middle grade than teen, but the Scientists in the Field series is wonderful for a million different reasons. I love books about history and China. I also love books about food. What I love the most are books about a subject that I don't think I'm interested in, but are so well done that they make me care and make me want to know even more about a topic I've never thought twice about. That's one of the reasons why I love the Scientists in the Field series so much. Secret of the Yellow Death is a recent title that grabbed me like that. Last year's honor book Written in Bone did the same. Last year's winner is another example. I had never really though about Charles Darwin's personal life before Charles and Emma, but I couldn't put it down and have spent a lot of time talking about it ever since then.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fun Children's Lit Links for your Saturday Morning

Reading through various newsletters and e-mails I came across a couple of links I had to share!

What would Tim Burton's take on Green Eggs and Ham look like? Children's tale reimagined as movie posters! These posters were exactly what I needed to make me laugh this morning!

Unshelved updates Matilda and has her take on ebooks. This one is getting posted in my office!:)

Friday, March 18, 2011

YA Movie News

-The biggest news this week is that Jennifer Lawrence has been cast as Katniss in The Hunger Games movie. I loved this interview with Gary Ross about casting Katniss and I can't wait for the rest of the cast to come together.

-Disney Channel has an original movie in the works based on Robin Palmer's novel, Geek Charming. Thanks to Cynopsis Kids for the news.

-On a side note, I went and saw Beastly this week and I really enjoyed it! Yes, it was different from the book, but I thought it kept the feel of the book for the most part. I wasn't sure I would like the cast but they all did a good job and I really liked Mary Kate Olsen as Kendra-she surprised me the most! If you haven't had a chance to see it yet-check it out!! It's great for a girl's night out!

And we all need a Harry Potter fix, right? Here's a look at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 that was recently released. I'm so excited for this movie!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jennifer Lawrence Is Katniss

Confirmed this morning, Jennifer Lawrence will be playing the role of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games movie. Now we wait for the rest of the casting to come together! I'll keep you posted!

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 3/1/11

Add to Goodreads

Check out my Interview with Lindsey Leavitt!!

About the Book: Payton Gritas has just found out that her father has MS. On top of that, she discovers that her parents have been keeping this news from her for months! Payton is furious and her parents make her attend counseling sessions at school. When her guidance counselor suggests that Payton make a focus journal, Payton decides her focus object will be Sean Griswold's head. He sits right in front of her in Biology and she's seen that head in alphabetical order for years.

But as her focus project continues, Payton realizes there may be more to Sean Griswold than just his head. He's smart, funny and he shares her love for Seinfeld. Can your focus object become your crush? And is any of this going to help Payton with her dad?

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: Sean Griswold's Head is a contemporary novel that manages to weave together tough issues, romance, and humor making it heartfelt and hilarious at the same time. I love love loved it!!

Payton is dealing with her dad's diagnosis, a fight with her best friend, and navigating the strange world of your first love. She has a great voice and I liked her immediately. Even throughout everything, Payton keeps her sarcastic sense of humor. Her focus journal entries on Sean are hilarious and her shift from Sean being a focus object to Sean being a crush rings true to any girl who has fallen for the boy that's always been there.

Sean is sweet, charming and oh so adorable! He's a book boyfriend for sure, although I don't know if I'd be as willing to get on a bike as Payton is. And it's not just Sean and Payton that I loved-the entire cast of characters is well rounded and add to the story. I loved her friend Jac-she reminded me of me and my friends in high school who were always so over the top with our crushes! And Grady the Goth adds both some humor and heart as Payton deals with her burgeoning relationship with Sean. While I do think Payton's parents were terrible for not telling her about her dad, I did still love the family dynamic. Parents mess up and Payton's parents are trying to make it right. I love family dynamics like that.

Author Lindsey Leavitt keeps the tone of the book lighter without going into fluffy-chick lit this is not. And while there's a romance storyline, this isn't strictly a romance. This is Payton's story about how even when life might seem at it's worst, there are good spots too-and how exactly do you navigate the good with the bad.

I really loved this book. It was funny and sweet but also heart wrenching. You understand why Payton's upset and scared about her dad. While her actions are frustrating at times (she shuts her parents off and refuses to talk to them for months-realistic for teens, but hey, I'm an adult and wanted to tell her to talk to her dad!), they are realistic and I think teens will relate. I loved that there was humor mixed in-it helped keep the book from getting too dark. I also really liked that the story never got sappy-it stayed real and while Payton figures things out, it's not done in an over the top way.

I've already passed Sean Griswold's Head to the teens at my library and had them gushing over how great it was. So pass this along to your teens who want a contemporary read or maybe a lighter issue story-they'll love it just like I did!

Book Pairings: Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott, Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson-both feature family dynamics similar to Payton's and are dealing with family issues and growing up

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC I picked up at ALA

Author Interview: Lindsey Leavitt

photo credit: Jennie Slade

Lindsey Leavitt is awesome. And I'm not just saying that because she did a very cool Q&A with me and writes fantastic books. I've actually met Lindsey in person and let me tell you, she is just as sweet and kind and funny and she is on her blog! Seriously-totally awesome author. So of course when I got the chance to interview her here at GreenBeanTeenQueen, I had to take it! Lindsey has a great new contemporary YA book out called Sean Griswold's Head-and oh my goodness I loved it! So please welcome Lindsey to GreenBeanTeenQueen!

OK, so I saw in your acknowledgements that your husband was your high school lab partner! Did you crush on him like Payton does Sean and did you draw on your relationship for inspiration?

Here’s the deal with my husband. The man is a fine wine. Or, I don’t drink wine, so maybe… a good cheese? The kind of cheese that is yummier the moldier it gets and… er. What I mean is, it’s a scientific fact that he’s gotten cuter the older we’ve gotten. When we were younger teens, he had braces and goofy and I had awful bangs and pegged my jeans and do not get me started on my dark lip liner. So it’s not like we were each other’s dream dates. But we were friends, and he dated my friends, and I don’t think one thing about either of us changed, but little by little I just started noticing things about him, things that I liked. Then he asked me out in the middle of anatomy class, we had an amazing time, and I remember thinking during our first kiss, “Oh. Huh. So I guess I like this boy.”

Which is very different than a lot of the I MUST HAVE YOU EVEN IF IT KILLS ME kind of love we read in a lot of YA fiction (which hey, I love me some of that too). With this book, I drew from the sweetness of my very ordinary but very real experience of first love. I think there’s still magic in those relationships too.

I think there's magic in those relationships too! Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan and I had a friendship turned romance and I always think that's the most romantic!!

Sean Griswold's Head is more contemporary compared to your previous novel, Princess For Hire (which has a bit of fantasy mixed in). What's the hardest part about writing contemporary fiction? What's the easiest part?

I can’t say this for all contemporary fiction writers, but for me the difficulty was keeping the external plot going while still focusing on that internal character arc. In early drafts, I just had the characters sitting around talking about their feelings, and I realized, oh. Stuff needs to happen too. So I worked on the complexities of… stuff.

The easiest part, or maybe the most enjoyable part, was creating the characters. They became more and more real to me as I wrote deeper and deeper in the story, until it got to the point that I’d be at the mall and a girl would walk by and I’d think, “Oh look! It’s Jac! Except Jac wouldn’t wear that skirt.”

Okay, that sounded dorky. Which makes sense, because I am a dork. AND PROUD.

In what ways is Payton like you, if any?

I’ll tell you one way she’s not like me—I’m not organized. Organizational stores make me queasy, because they just remind me how cluttery my life really is. I’m also not as much of a Type A personality, although I love me some gold stars and attention.

But sports have always been a part of my life, both playing and watching, and Payton is a sporty girl at heart. And we both like boys in spandex. Grrr.

I wish I could be more organized like Payton! In the book, Payton has to do a focus project and chooses Sean's Griswold's head. What literary character would you do a focus project on?
Going with the cliché answer: Mr. Darcy. And by project, I mean I’d go Lost in Austen and travel back in time to a world where he really exists and… talk to him, because I’m married, but maybe this is before I’m married. Yes, before. And then after Mr. Darcy and I…. talk… I return to the present day, more aware of the glorious world and prepared to meet a modern man, like my husband.

Whew. Bullet dodged. Are you trying to get me in trouble over here?

Ah...Mr. Darcy-he would make a great focus project, wouldn't he??

You're a writer, you're mom to three adorable girls, you write an awesome blog and are active on Twitter. How do you manage it all?

Alien superpowers. And Junior Mints. Mostly Junior Mints.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tween Tuesday: Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer Holm

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens. Join the fun and share you post below!

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Genre: Historical

Release Date: 5/1/1999

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: May Amelia has seven older brothers and is the only girl that's been born along the banks of the Nasal River. It's hard to be a proper young lady when you're surrounded by boys. May Amelia longs for a sister and now that Mama is going to have another baby, there's hope that another girl will come along.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: At ALA they announced a sequel to Our Only May Amelia and I decided I better read this one before the sequel comes out!

May Amelia is a great main character-she's funny and spunky and gets into a lot of mischief. The first part of the book tells the various adventures of May Amelia and her brothers and then one the new baby is born, the book shifts a bit. There's still stories about May Amelia's adventures, but the book becomes more about her than it was to start. (And I don't want to say much because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't read it).

This one had the same problem with the other Jennifer Holm book I recenty read, Turtle in Paradise. A great story, fantastic characters, but the ending just comes a bit too quickly. I wanted a bit more to be wrapped up. But as a whole, the book was great and I really enjoyed. I listened to it on audio and Emmy Rossum is the narrator and she did a great job-I hope they can get her again for the sequel.

Book Pairings: Little House Series or Caddie Woodlawn.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook CD borrowed from my local library

Monday, March 14, 2011

Close to a Katniss?

Sources today are saying that we're very close to casting Katniss for The Hunger Games movie. Various sources have been reporting that we could have the casting offer today. And who is everyone saying the role goes to?

Jennifer Lawrence is looking like the winner, but nothing is official yet, so we're still waiting to hear exactly what happens.

In other Hunger Games news, Josh Hutcherson is vying for a role. Articles I've read have him as Peeta, which maybe he could pull off, but I want Peeta blonde, so he has some hair dyeing to do!!

Library Programs: Skype Book Club

I've been asked recently about the Skype Book Club that I run at my library, so I thought I'd share it here at GreenBeanTeenQueen!

I've always wanted to have a book club with my teens, but book clubs have a hard time getting going and working at the branch I work at. I think this is because I work with a lot of teens who are already involved in a lot of extracurricular activities. My branch is also hard to get to if you don't have transportation. So to make the book club a bit more enticing, I decided to try author chats mixed in with the book club format.

Skype Book Club is easy to run and tons of fun! The teens get together and we discuss the book, what we liked, didn't like and questions we have for the author. A lot of my teens are interested in writing, so they love hearing about the writing process and the road to publishing from each author. I typically pick one book to discuss by the author's we're chatting with, but if they've written more than one, we talk about their books in general in addition to the one we're focusing on. I also am not strict on making the teens read the book to attend. I know they're busy and we still have great discussions with those of use who have read the book. I always have copies of the author's books available to check out and the teens that haven't read the book are always eager to grab these at the end of the meeting.

After we've chatted about the book (about 15-20 min.) we call our author via Skype. This is super easy to use and it's great for author visits because it gives the teens a chance to see the author. I love this because we don't often have the ability to bring authors to our library for formal visits and signings, so this gives the teens a chance to connect with authors.

How do I get authors to participate? I just ask! I send e-mails to authors my teens have mentioned or recently read. I explain what the Skype Book Club is, that I'd love to invite them in for an informal Q&A session with the teens, and some available dates of our upcoming meetings. No, I don't have any special friendships or pull with authors and no, I can't connect you and get you an "in" with authors. If you do attend a library conference, like ALA, connect with publishers and ask if they have authors who skype. Attend author signings and ask if they do virtual author visits-many authors have this information at thier signings already and are happy to tell you about it! There's also a Skype an Author website with a list of authors who Skype-great for finding authors! Don't take it bad if the author says no or it doesn't work out. It's not you, it's just sometimes library scheduling doesn't work with an author's schedule. Also, remember that even though it's a virtual visit, it's still a professional visit, so give your authors respect and treat it like they were physically there visiting your library.

Skype Book Club can also be a great way to encourage teens to try new authors and promote authors . Yes, when I ask my teens who they want to Skype with, I always hear Meg Cabot, Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling, James Patterson, Rick Riordan. That would be awesome, but these authors are very busy and are being asked for author visits all the time! So don't be afraid to start smaller and maybe someday you might get one of your dream list authors to visit! (A librarian can dream, right?:)

How do I promote the club? It gets advertised in all our library promotion. In addition to that I invite teens on Facebook, post it on the library teen page blog, send e-mails to my mailing list of teens, and spread the word to the area school librarians (these are great connections and be wonderful in helping spread the word about book clubs!) And of course, I tell the teens and they tell their friends-never underestimate word of mouth!

So far we've hosted four Skype Book Club chats and each one has been fantastic! The teens love the chance to connect with authors and the authors get a chance to hear from readers who have read their books. It's fairly easy to set up and run-and it's a blast! I love hearing from the teens how they love talking to authors and how every author we talk to is so cool (I agree!).

I'm toying with the idea of someday doing an online chat with an author so teens wouldn't have to be at one specific branch (or even at the library at all) to participate. There are so many cool options for virtual visits and it's a great way to connect teens and authors.

If you've hosted virtual author visits at your library or school, I'd love to hear about them! I'm always interested in how libraries do this!

Friday, March 11, 2011

YA Movie News

-Casting rumors for The Hunger Games have been circulating all week, and last night a major rumor spread that Jennifer Lawrence had been offered the role of Katniss. A source at Lionsgate then spoke out and said the rumor was false and no offers had been made. But maybe this means we're close to the end of all the speculation?

-The CW is taking another LJ Smith novel and bringing it to the small screen. The Secret Circle is in development and Britt Robinson and Thomas Dekker have joined the cast.

-Warner Bros. will open a Harry Potter Walking Tour in Spring 2012. Located at Leavesden England the tour will take fans around to see the sets, costumes, and props used in the movies.

-ABC Family has a new slate of shows for Summer, including some book to TV adaptations. The Nine Lives of Chloe King will air on Tuesdays starting June 14. It will follow the second season of Pretty Little Liars. The Lying Game will air on Mondays starting August 15. Thanks to Cynopsis for the news.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Adult Lit: What Happens in London by Julia Quinn

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: 6/30/2009

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: Olivia Bevelstoke is spying on her new neighbor. Sure, he's handsome and a bit mysterious, but they say he killed his fiance.

Harry Valentine knows that the girl next door is spying on him and he doesn't like it one bit. He hates it when he gets instructions from the war office that he is to spy on a visiting Russian Prince. He really hates it when he finds out that the Prince has set his sights on Olivia and now he must protect her.

As Harry starts to spend time with Olivia, he discovers he just might be falling for her himself.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: What Happens in London is a hilarious regency romance! When I was asking for suggestions for a romance to read for my adult reading materials class, I heard Julia Quinn's name over and over again. While the second book in the Bevelstoke series, I wasn't even aware that it was part of a series and the book can stand perfectly on it's own.

The characters are too much fun. Olivia makes lists in her head that pertain to the various situations she finds herself in, which often lead to a funny narration on her part. Olivia and Harry start out disliking each other. It's not even really that they dislike each other, more that they're suspicious of each other. But that soon changes after they talk and get to know each other and their relationship turns to a flirtatious friendship. They talk to each other through their windows and share in the reading of terrible literature with Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron, which adds another element of fun to the book. They have a witty banter and the book made me laugh out loud on several occasions.

The supporting cast of characters is hilarious as well. The Prince is rude and obnoxious, Harry's cousin Sebastian is dramatic and hilarious. This cast of characters is one I would love to spend more time with. When I found out it was part of a series, I had to go back and pick up the first book-I was impressed with the author.

What Happens in London is a RITA Award winner for Best Regency Historical Romance and the Romance Winner on Rusa's 2010 Reading List. Even if you snub romance or historical romance, give this one a try. It's a fast read and full of humor that makes this a very enjoyable read.

Is There Teen Appeal? Maybe. The book is very funny and the characters are fun. This is an adult romance, so there some steamy scenes. But I know many teens who regularly read adult romance, so if you have readers who enjoy regency fiction or regency romance this might be a good choice.

Book Pairings: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean, Wallflower Series by Lisa Kleypas

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from copy I borrowed from my local library

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Clarity by Kim Harrington PLUS Giveaway

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Genre: Mystery

Release Date: 3/1/2011

About the Book: Clarity "Clare" Fern has a special gift-she's a psychic and see visions about people's pasts. When a teenage girl is found murdered in her quiet Cape Cod tourist town, Clare's cheating ex-boyfriend enlists Clare's special talent to help solve the case. Clare is still mad about the fact that he broke her heart. But when the top suspect in the cast becomes Clare's brother, she knows she has to help. Clare joins up with Gabriel, the hot son of the town's new detective to bring the murderer to justice. But will Clare's gift fail her just when she needs it most?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Clarity is a supernatural mystery that is an easy and addicting read that I think will appeal to fans of Meg Cabot. The writing and mystery reminded me a bit of Cabot's books and the banter is fun. The book is a fast read and Clare is an engaging character. She has a quirky family and she's easy to like and root for.

The mystery is a bit simplistic and I would have liked things to be a bit fleshed out more. Clare stumbles upon clues fairly easily and I wanted a bit of a more complicated mystery and puzzle to figure out. There's also a large cast of characters which means a lot of people to keep track of. Clare also has a lot of potential love interests for Clare, which I found a bit annoying, since she mentions many times that she's a loner and viewed as a freak at school because of her gifts. Sure, we have our love triangle, but I kind of hoped that her brother's best friend would become a possible love interest as well! It's also a bit convenient how the teens end up working on the case, but that can be overlooked fairly easily.

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy Clarity and I think it sets up what could be a great new mystery series. I really hope we see more of Clare. While it doesn't end on a cliffhanger and the mystery is resolved, the book does leave a few things open and I would love to know what happens next. It's easy to get pulled into the story and finish it quickly. I liked that while Clare has a psychic power, that's not the focus of the book, the focus is the mystery and her power aides in solving that. I also liked her relationship with her mom and her brother-I love great family dynamics in YA! I just hope that the future volumes in the series give us a more complex mystery.

Book Pairings: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, Echoes by Melinda Metz, The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot, 1-800-Where R You Series by Meg Cabot, Touch Series by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from copy sent by publisher for review

Want to win a copy of Clarity? Fill out the form below:
-2 Winners
-US Address only
-Contest ends at midnight (CT) 3/23

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tween Tuesday: Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

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

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Graphic Novel/Science Fiction

Release Date: 2/1/2011

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: When Zita and her friend come across a meteor, the find a red button remote. Of course, curiousity gets the best of Zita and she pushes the button, sending her best friend to another planet. Zita soon follows and embarks on a journey in a strange new world to save her friend.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I read a review of Zita the Spacegirl on Betsy Bird's blog and knew I had to check it out. Zita is a great new addition to middle grade graphic novels and I can't wait to start booktalking it. Zita reminds me a bit of The Wizard of Oz, Gregor the Overlander, and Astro Boy all rolled into one and set in space. Zita's adventures are exciting and fun and she meets a great cast of unique characters along the way.

One thing I love about graphic novels is the way the artist can connect the reader to the characters and portray emotion in a powerful way. Ben Hatke excels in that and there were characters I grew to love in this short graphic novel. I hope there are more of Zita's adventures to come.

The artwork reminds me a bit of Kean Soo's Jellaby, one of my favorite middle grade graphic novels, and I'm always a sucker for full color when it comes to graphic novels! The artwork is colorful and detailed and packs a lot of emotion into the small frames. There's lots of adventure in Zita's stories, so if you have fans who like adventure and outerspace, be sure to hand this one over.

A great new middle graphic novel-add this to your reading list if you work with tweens!

Book Pairings: Jellaby by Kean Soo, Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi, Flight: Explorer edited by Kazu Kibuishi, Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins, The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from copy I checked out from my local library

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fabulous Films for Young Adults

I am a very busy girl!! In addition to my job as a librarian and my blog, I'm also a committee member for Fabulous Films for Young Adults. This committee is part of YALSA, which is the young adult division of the American Library Association.

When I tell people I'm on FFYA, I always get the same response-"what do movies have to do with libraries?" Well, lots of things! Libraries aren't just about research and reference materials. You can find popular materials at the library, including movies! The goal of Fabulous Films for Young Adults is to provide libraries and schools with a collection development tool. Each list is based around a theme and each year a committee of librarians view, discuss and vote on the top films for that theme. These films are chosen because the committee feels these films deserve a place in a library collection and we provide a list as a starting place. Teachers can use the list to find films to use in the classroom. And librarians can use the list to develop programs around the films. Not everyone will agree with every film on the list, but the films are all watched and discussed during meetings and the committee tries to pick the films we think are the best for our given theme that represent a varity of interests, age levels and audience.

The best part about Fabulous Films for Young Adults is that it's not just the committee members that can nominate films! This year's theme is Song and Dance. Anyone can nominate a film to be considered for the list! So get out your song and dance movies and nominate away-we love nominations that come from outside the committee! (Or if you don't want to fill out the long nomination for, leave a comment with your film nomination and I'll work on nominating it for you!)
And if you have any questions about getting involved with YALSA, let me know-I'd be happy to try and answer them!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blog Tour: Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney PLUS Interview

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Historical/Fantasy

Release Date: 3/1/11

Purchase from Book Depository

Add to Goodreads

M.J. Putney's Facebook Page

About the Book: Lady Victoria Mansfield Tory lives in a time where magic is viewed as a terrible disgrace amongst the upper classes. When Tory discovers she has magical powers, she must do everything she can to hide them. But when a tragic accident occurs that causes Tory to reveal her secret, she is shamed and sent to Lackland Abbey, a school to cure young mages.
At Lackland, Tory discovers that not everyone views magic as a curse. The more she learns about magic, the more she is intrigued. With war approaching in England, Tory feels as though her magic can be useful. But using and strengthening her powers means risking her future.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: This book was interesting. There were things I liked and things I didn't like, which made reading it a bit annoying because I kept going back and forth on how I felt about it.

I liked that the summary on the back really only covers the first few chapters, but at the same time this bugged me a bit. We're thrown right into the story without much world building or character development and in just a few chapters Tory has discovered her magic powers, revealed them and is being shipped off to school. What I did like about this is that it leaves a lot for the readers to discover without knowing too much of the story. Because of this I sort of hesitate to talk about further plot points because I don't want to ruin the surprises.

Since the cover kind of hints at this, I will mention that I was very pleased that there was a time travel element to the story. I'm a sucker for time travel and I always enjoy a good time travel story. The book was a bit of a slow start for me, but once Tory got to Lackland and things started to pick up, I started to like it more. I really started to like it more when the time travel is thrown in. At first I wasn't sure how the author would tie everything together, but she worked it all out and it made me like the book more.

The biggest thing that had me frustrated about this book was that I felt it was lacking a lot in character development. Hopefully this changes as the series goes on. I never really knew Tory and found her a bit hard to relate to. We don't get a lot of background story for her and she just felt sort of flat. I would have liked all the characters to be fleshed out more-I never really felt like we got to really know any of them. I also got a bit frustrated about how accepting everyone was of everything. It was very convenient and everyone trusted everyone. Even if someone got upset or made a mistake, they were quick to apologize. Also, when Tory does travel through time, the family she meets are all very quick to accept her story and accept magical powers-pretty much with no questions asked. It felt a bit cheesy and Mary Sunshine at times.

I did like reading it though and I'm interested to see what adventures Tory and her friends come across next. There's a bit of a romance that's beginning in this book, so I hope that continues to develop as the series progresses. The book blends fantasy, history, romance and time travel, so readers who like books with a nice mix of genres should pick this one up.


- If you could travel back in time, what time period would you pick?

MJP: Probably the English Regency, which is the early 19th century. There were so many interesting things going on. Society was changing, becoming more open and democratic. Literacy and opportunities were increasing. There were revolutions in the creative arts. And the clothes were more comfortable than they’d been in a couple of centuries.

-You say on your website you were an "obsessive reader" as a kid. What were some of your favorite books to read as a child?

MJP: I read everything! I particularly loved science fiction, like Robert Heinlein. I read girl detective stories like Trixie Belden and the Dana sisters. I read boys’ sports books about things like baseball and football even though I didn’t actually like sports. And anything historical. If the library had it, I’d read it.

-What is the best part about writing for teens?

MJP: YA literature is tremendously open in the kinds of themes and stories that can be told. Most genres has well defined parameters. If it’s a mystery, there’s going to be a puzzle, probably a murder to solve. Romance will focus on a courtship as two characters fall in love and learn how to be together. Science fiction riffs on social and scientific ideas. Epic fantasy is the struggle between good and evil. The core YA story is a young person growing and learning more about the world, so that character can be taken anywhere. It’s wonderful!

Check out the rest of the tour:

Tuesday 1-Mar Culture Mob
Wednesday 2-Mar Midnight Blooms
Friday 4-Ma rEating YA Books
Saturday 5-Mar Green Bean Teen Queen
Sunday 6-Mar Love Romance Passion / Literature Young Adult Fiction
Monday 7-Mar Words for Teens
Tuesday 8-Mar Pure Imagination
Wednesday 9-Mar The Story Siren
Thursday 10-Mar My Pal Amy
Friday 11-Mar YA Bliss
Saturday12-Mar The Book Smugglers
Sunday 13-Mar Wondrous Reads
Monday 14-Mar Novel Voice
Wednesday 16-Mar
Imagination Designs