Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Flash Reviews: Picture Books

I've always enjoyed picture books, but taking on a job as a youth services manager where I now work with ages birth-18 means I get to read a lot more picture books! I've been reviewing them at work, but I decided it's time I started putting those reviews up on GreenBeanTeenQueen as well! Because you're never too old for picture books, right?:)

Crabby Pants by Julie Gassman, illustrated by Richard Watson

About the Book: A little kitten is very crabby and finds himself in the naughty chair. But then he thinks about his crabby pants problem and comes up with a way to solve it for good. Only his solution won't make anyone else very happy.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I picked this one up on the title alone. I was called crabby pants many times as a kid (and OK, even as an adult sometimes) and the cover with the crabby kitten just made me laugh.

The story is as much for parents as it is for kids-both will get a kick out of the creative solution to the crabby pants problem. My only complaint was the ending, which was a little open ended, but still fun and could lead to a good discussion between parents and kids. Crabby Pants is a humorous picture book that's sure to lighten anyone's mood!

Everyone Needs a Friend by Dubravka Kolanovic

About the Book: Jack the wolf doesn't mind living alone, but he does get lonely at times. So when Walter the mouse comes for a visit, Jack is excited to have a friend to spend time with. But Walter has some annoying habits and Jack isn't sure he likes his company. Will Jack and Walter learn to get along?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: A sweet book on friendship, Jack and Walter are too cute! The illustrations have a nice, soft, warm & fuzzy look to them. Jack's annoyance at Walter's habits is funny to read about and I'm sure many readers can relate! A good book to add to a list of friendship books for the preschool crowd.

In Front of My House by Marianne Dubuc

About the Book: A child tells about what can be found in front of the house, inside the house, around the room, and beyond.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: This is a fun, twisty little book!

The book starts with "in front of my house" and soon grows to the bedroom, what's outside the window, what can be found in a book, in outerspace, and on and on. The path doesn't always make sense, but it captures a child's imagination perfectly (which doesn't always make sense either!:) It's a long picture book, but the text and illustrations are simple. It's fun to guess what could be coming next-chances are you won't be able to! The story is circular and we wind up where we started, making this a great book to read over and over again!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tween Tuesday: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

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

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Genre: Historical

Release Date: 9/13/2011

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About the Book: Two kids, two stories set fifty years apart. Ever since his mom died, Ben feels alone. He misses his mom and wonders if his father is out there somwhere and if he even knows about him. When he finds a clue to that could lead him to his past, Ben has to take the chance to follow it.

Rose is home with her father, but she's lonely. She follows the career of a movie star and dreams of visiting New York. When a chance to escape arrives, Rose decides to take it.

Fifty years apart, two young children will find themselves on journeys full of wonder.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Wonderstruck is an amazing book and a must read of 2011! I wasn't sure how Brian Selznick would be able to top The Invention of Hugo Cabret, but somehow he managed to make his word and picture style feel fresh and new with Wonderstruck.

This time around, we have two parallel stories that are set fifty years apart. There are similarities between the stories that connect them. Both are children on a journey and both are seeking answers. Rose is deaf and Ben is deaf in one ear, but a recent accident has left him with little hearing in either ear. Rose's story is told in pictures, Ben's story in words. The stories are set years apart, but they slowly begin to weave together. The stories work well together as the journeys the characters are on are similar. The artwork is stunning and the attention to details is amazing. I could pour of the drawings in the book forever looking at all the added extras-and this was just the ARC version! I can't wait to see what the finished copy looks like!

The exploration of home and family is touching, but never in a cheesy way. The book could have come off corny, but it never does. We also get a glimpse of deaf culture, which is something I don't think is discussed very often in fiction. I think this could make a fantastic book group book, especially with middle grade/tween readers, as I think they will relate to Ben and Rose and their coming of age journeys. There's also a great activity that readers can do with this book-Ben keeps his own memory box and personal museum. I think this could be a great activity for tweens to get them thinking about objects they would put in their own memory box museum.

Ben finds himself at the Museum of Natural History, and of course, any book that has kids running away to a museum must have a nod to The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The author hides several references to Jamie, Claudia and Mrs. Basil E, which adds a fun extra to the book as the readers hunts them down.

A wonderful book that is sure to excite readers. I wonder if Wonderstruck will find it's way to any of the ALA Award lists come Janurary-I wouldn't be surprised if it did. I think tweens especially will devour this one! Wonderstruck is a book to be loved and savored over multiple readings.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC sent by the publisher

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Hunger Games Capitol Website-What Could It Be?

So if you watched the teaser of The Hunger Games movie, you may have noticed an interesting hashtag in the corner of the screen at the end that said "#whatsmydistrict" Well, of course I was intrigued. So checking it out on Twitter brought me to this Capitol website.

Not much so far, but I believe it's a picture of the Capitol seal. And if you start to follow The Capitol PN on Twitter, you'll see some interesting (and even a bit creepy!) tweets! Asking everyone to report to the Capitol for the games? Scary but also cool! So what do you think is in store? Will you sign up? And what could the website be?

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Release Date: 9/13/2011

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About the Book: In a future where Earth is being destroyed, the hopes of finding a new planet to continue life is pinned on two ships-the Empyrean and the New Horizon. Waverly is the oldest girl on the Empyrean and wants a bit more to her life other than a proposal from Kieran, the oldest Empyrean boy. When the Empyrean is met up with their sister ship, New Horizon, the ship is abuzz with what the ship could want. Soon, the Empyrean is being mounted and all the girls are whisked away to a new life on the New Horizon.

As the oldest, Waverly knows she must fight for their survival and rights. The New Horizon has never been able to successfully conceive children in deep space and they want the girls of the Empyrean to help them create a new generation. Meanwhile, on the Empyrean, the boys are looking for a way to survive and save their friends and family. Kieran tries to take leadership of the ship, but is overthrown.

With Waverly and Kieran surrounded by enemies, they must each formulate a plan to save their ship and those around them.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Glow is one of the big buzz books of 2011. I finished it a week ago and I'm still unsure what I thought about it. To make it easier for me to formulate my thoughts, I'm going to break this review down into what I liked and what I didn't like.

What I liked: I liked that Waverly is pretty kick butt and I can see her growing during the rest of the series into a nice, strong, female lead that you really want to cheer on. I also liked that the book is straight science fiction-this is scifi in space in the future-no genre mashups. There's a bit of romance in the book, but it's not a focal point. Instead the story is more about Waverly and Kieran and their respective trials of survival in their own way. Waverly is fighting a more psychological battle where Kieran is fighting more of a physical and spiritual one. There's a small hint that there might be a love triangle, but I'm holding out hope that that doesn't happen in future books, because I think the story is strong enough without it. (Also, the character that could possibly be in the love triangle is kind of a jerk, so I would have a hard time wanting Waverly to be with him.)

Glow is fast paced and the action starts very early on-just a few pages in, which makes for a quick, page-turning read. The story alternates between what's happening with Waverly and her ship and Kieran and his ship. The New Horizon is an interesting ship that will get readers talking for sure! Anne Mather is the leader, or Pastor, of the ship and it borderlines on a cult. She's a great bad guy because you never know who to trust or not, what to believe and you want Waverly to fight back. Kieran on the other hand is dealing with a ship that has been attacked, trying to keep up morale and find a way to save his ship, it's passengers and the missing girls. Kieran begins holding meetings and preaching sermons to boost morale. One ship has religion that is bad and harmful, another has a religion that is hopeful and healing.

There's an exploration of what people do to survive in tough situations, religion, trust, relationships, power vs. absoulte power and what is right or wrong and are there blurred lines at times. With everything that is going on in the plot, this one could be ripe for book discussions and dissecting the plot.

What I didn't like: (WARNING: I'm trying to avoid spoilers and be a bit vague, but there may be some spoilers here!!) At times I found the third person narrative and the alternating stories a bit frustrating. This meant the reader knows what is happening when the characters do not, which made their actions a bit hard to deal with since I knew more about the situation then they did. I also felt Waverly was unfair to Kieran and they should have just talked out a lot of things. I felt they never showed any understanding about each other and were both stubborn in their own ways. I know not everything could be wrapped up in one book since this is a series, but Waverley frustrated me by the end with her stubbornness to see everything as good or bad and never the possibility that some things are situational. She was so unaccepting of Kieran which really annoyed me, since I as the reader had been there with him through his trials as well. I also felt that Kieran was much more willing to listen to Waverly than she was to him. I understand that Waverly's situation gave her a bad experience, especially with religion, but she's so willing to brush off Kieran because of her own explanation and experience instead of understanding his side. I hope this gets explored more in the next books, as I think Waverly is being rash. She has issues with trust, which I guess I can understand, but I still felt she was being unfair by the end.

I didn't like that Seth was jerk-we know what happened as the reader because we're told in third person what was going on the ship. So we're told that Seth is not great. But then we're supposed to start to wonder about him and if he's really good or bad. Since we were told about what happened early on, I had a hard time buying into the fact that maybe he wasn't so bad. I think this would have been better with a different narration style.

The author is trying to set up a discussion of power and does power bring absolute power, which I think in some ways works and in others doesn't. Again, I had problems with this because of the way Waverly and Kieran's stories hang at the end of this book. Waverly refuses to trust and see Kieran's side, Kieran has a different viewpoint because of his own situation. Plus, I really hated how Seth was trying to convince everyone that Kieran was out for absolute power. The author makes note in the first two chapters that Kieran is the oldest child and oldest boy on the ship and it's known to everyone on the ship that he is in line to take over after the Captain. He's the Captain's protege. But when the attack happens and Kieran begins to lead, Seth questions him and tries to turn everyone else against him. He claims that Kieran is out for control and power and wonders why they didn't hold an election. Um, the ship was being attacked, people are dying and missing, and you want to hold an election? Plus, we've been told by this point several times how Kieran is in line to take over, so by rule of succession, Kieran taking over makes sense. This just really made me dislike Seth's character even more.

I also never really understood why they just took the girls. Why not take the boys too? If they could never have children, wouldn't having some boys on board help multiply their next generation like they wanted? The whole thing never really made sense to me-I would have wanted both genders to increase my population for sure.

The end doesn't wrap anything up, there are lots of questions unanswered and the cliffhanger is just a bit meh. It leaves you wishing the book was longer and that the whole story could wrap up if the characters would just talk to each other more!

Don't get me wrong-there were things I liked and I think the buzz that this one is generating is great. I like that science fiction, especially scifi set in space, is making a comeback. I think there will be lots of readers who are in love this book, but for me it was a middle of the road novel. I'll read the next books because I'm interested enough to keep going and I want to know what happens and I want answers to my questions, but it's not a book I'll be raving about.

Book Pairings: Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Matched by Ally Condie

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC recieved from publisher at ALA

Saturday, August 27, 2011

YA Movie News

-Don't forget about the Hunger Games sneak peak during MTV's VMAs Sunday night. Can't watch it Sunday? MTV will have the clip up online after the VMAs air. Here's a teaser of the teaser:

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music

-Universal has an Emily the Strange movie in the works. Writer Melisa Wallack is attached to write a script and Chloe Moretz is set to star as Emily. Thanks to Cynopsis for the news.

-Summit Entertainment has been picking up lots of books to adapt into movies. The latest one is a big screen adaptation of the Homelanders series by Andrew Klavan. The first in the series, The Last Thing I Remember, is currently on our state book list for grades 6-8, and I can't keep the series on the shelf! The books are suspensful and the teens love them, so I think a movie version would be very cool. Thanks to Cynopsis for the news.

-The CW is looking to adapting The Carrie Diaries into a TV series. This is in very early development, so I'll keep you posted if any more news follows! Thanks to Cynopsis for the news.

-Another Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie is in the works, this one based on the book Dog Days. The release date is set for August 3, 2012. Thanks to Shelf-Awareness for the news.

-A movie version of Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine is in the works.

-Remember when I reported about a movie version of Wicked Lovely? Universal has pulled the plug on the project and the producers are now looking for a new home for a big screen adaptation.

-Entertainment Weekly has photos of The Hobbit cast in a great new photo album for the movie. Makes me very excited!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blog Tour: Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles PLUS Giveaway

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 8/16/2011

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About the Book: Luis Fuentes has always been the brother who is expected to be good and not get into trouble. He has ambitions to become an astronaut and his life has been about sheltering him from the gang violence his brothers grew up so he can achieve his dreams. But Luis has a side that makes him want to take risks, and there's no greater risk than Nikki Cruz.

Nikki Cruz has been hurt by guys in the past and she's not about to trust a guy like Luis-a guy she knows will only end up breaking her heart. Nikki has secrets that make her keep her guard up, but will Luis be able to break them down?

When Luis discovers secrets about his family, he has a choice to make. Will Nikki be enough to save him from a dangerous life?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Oh, those Fuentes brothers-they are so hot, how can you not love them all??:) Chain Reaction is another exciting entry into the Perfect Chemistry series, this time telling the story of the youngest brother, Luis. Chain Reaction is a great conclusion to the Perfect Chemistry series and has everything readers will be looking for. Steamy romance-check. Cute crushworthy boy-check. Some drama and surprises to keep readers guessing-check. Couple you want to see make it-check.

Where Alex and Carlos has bad boy streaks, Luis is more cocky and confident, but more of a good guy. He's trying hard not to get involved with the Latino Blood and is trying to stay out of trouble. Nikki isn't so much a bad girl, but instead a girl with secrets that provide her a reason to guard herself from guys. She doesn't want to fall again and get hurt. She's more independent than bad girl, but both Luis and Nikki have their "bad" streaks which makes their romance pretty steamy!

I wish we would have gotten to see their relationship develop more. I felt like in the previous two books, we really got to see the characters fall for each other and spend time getting to know each other. Luis and Nikki have that too, but we don't get to witness it as much-instead we're told about all the time they're spending together and witness they're very hot and heavy make out sessions. I felt like they spent a lot of time making out and that there connection was more physical than in the other books. The times that we do get to see them getting to know each other are sweet and I can see how they would fall for each other. I just would have liked to spend more time with them as that happened.

A treat for fans of the first two books is that we get to see Alex and Brittnay, Carlos and Kiara. I loved revisiting these characters and catching up with them and I'm sure any reader who enjoyed the first two will love these scenes.

There are some surprises in this book which added to the drama. I understood Luis and Nikki's motives, but most of the time I wanted them to stop being so dumb and tell them to just talk to each other already! They really liked making each other miserable and pushing each other away and then pulling back in. They have a lot of give and take which can be a bit frustrating. Serious, why wouldn't they just talk to each already??

While this is the conclusion to the series, the epilogues in each book I think leave it open for us to revisit the Fuentes family again in the future. Maybe we'll get lucky and we'll hear the kids stories next? I also felt that while Chain Reaction is part of a series, it could be read alone and the author does a nice job filling in details readers may need to know from previous books. Another great read full of drama and romance-hand this one to your romance readers who like their books with a bit of spice.

Book Pairings: Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper, Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Full Disclsoure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by the publisher

Want to win a copy of Chain Reaction? You're in luck because I have a copy to giveaway!!
-Open to US Shipping only
-Must be 13+ to enter
-Contest ends August 31
Good luck!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hunger Games at the VMAs

Hey Hunger Games Fans! If you can't wait to see a preview of the Hunger Games movie, you're in luck. MTV will be debuting a first look at the film during the VMA awards, Sunday, August 28. So set your DVRs! If you miss it, don't worry-MTV will be adding the clip online so you can watch it over and over!

I can't wait!! Who else will be tuning in?

Tween Tuesday: Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

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

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: 10/04/2011

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About the Book:
Liesl lives in a small attic room where she was banished by her evil stepmother. Liesl didn't even get a chance to say goodbye to her father who recently passed away. So when Liesl discovers a ghost named Po in her attic room, she hopes that Po can get a message to the other side for her father.

Outside the attic room, an alchemist's apprentice is watching Liesl from the street. Will wishes he could be friends with the girl in the attic and his daydreaming causes him to make a mistake-he switches his box of the most powerful magic in the world with the box containing the ashes of Liesl's father.

This sets off a string of events that lead Will, Liesl and Po on an extraordinary journey.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
If you're looking for a book to hand over to middle grade readers who want something that's a lighter fantasy with some adventure, Liesl & Po is a perfect choice. I can see readers who really like this one, loving it to pieces and clutching it to them with each re-read. I think this book will have a dedicated fanbase of tween readers who devour it.

I really like when books have varying storylines that all twist together somehow and Liesl & Po has lots of those! I almost felt the book should have been called Liesl, Po and Will, because Will does play a big part in the story and I liked his eventual friendship with Liesl. There are lots of characters which means lots of stories and action to keep track of, but it never felt like it was too muddled in keeping each story straight. In fact, I felt the stories could have been drawn out even more. There were things that were mentioned that I wished were more fleshed out. What happened to the guards sister? What will happen to the adults in the end? Where did Po come from? I still had questions at the end!

Although I had my questions, the story is a beautiful one with themes of family, friendship, magic and finding peace. The writing is touching and heartwarming with the right touch of humor. The world is a magical one that feels a bit foreign and historical-think Victorian setting-as well as having a touch of today. The characters of Liesl, Po and Will are characters that readers will like and want to see succeed. The kids are good, the bad guys are bad, and things aren't always as they seem. There are some twists that while I found predictable, I think some tween readers will find a surprise. The whole book has a feel of a classic tale with ghosts, greedy adults, and kids looking for a home.

A nice addition to libraries looking to add to their middle grade fantasy collections. It could also be a good read aloud, since I think it would have appeal to both genders-it doesn't lean too "girl read" or "guy read." I would recommend to readers who enjoy fantasy or books that have an old classic storytelling feel to them.

Book Pairings: The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (it references The Graveyard Book on the back of my ARC, so maybe that's why it was in my head while reading!)

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC I picked up at ALA

Monday, August 22, 2011

Author Interview & Giveaway: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures Review
Beautiful Darkness Review

Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia are the authors of the Beautiful Creatures series, which I've read and reviewed here at GreenBeanTeenQueen. The latest book, Beautiful Chaos, is coming in October! Can't wait until then? Check out Dream Dark, an e-book story.

About Dream Dark: A Beautiful Creatures Story – Available August 2!This all-new original e-book story stars Link, who undergoes a heart-racing transformation after the climactic battle in Beautiful Darkness. Dream Dark also includes an exclusive sneak peek at the first five chapters of Beautiful Chaos, the third book in the bestselling Beautiful Creatures series.

Kami and Margaret have always been great about reaching out to their fanbase and connecting with readers online and at book events. Recently, Big Honcho Media hosted an author chat and I was lucky enough to find out more about the lit fest they are planning.

Check out Yall Fest for more info!

Ms. Margaret Stohl: Charleston is our adopted home, as I said. We take every opportunity to go there. The writers we've already spoken to have started calling it Pie-Con, like Comic-Con but about pie, 'cause that's really our feeling on it.

Ms. Kami Garcia: Everything to Margie is about pie.

Ms. Margaret Stohl: I think everything boils down to food in one way or another. That's probably why there is so much food in the book.

We wanted to share Charleston with the writers we love, and we wanted to share the writers we love with the readers in the South. The South has a great literary tradition, but they don't get great access often to a lot of the YA community.
And that was a goal we share with the founder of Blue Bike Books, Jonathan Sanchez, who's a writer himself. And he was very involved with the Capital Book Festival, which is on hiatus this year. And this was sort of a shared dream of his and ours.

We have been really overwhelmed with both the reader response and the author response and the support we've gotten from the city of Charleston, all the writers, and all the readers. So, we're hoping for a really big turnout. We have some great writers. And we are going to be making those announcements on Twitter and Tumblr.

Ms. Kami Garcia: Yeah, every two days on the Tumblr you'll see another writer added and it will build up, hopefully, until the whole lineup will be up there.

Ms. Margaret Stohl: I was on the phone this week with Jonathan hearing about the bands, the live music, the food trucks and the sponsors, and, of course, the pie sponsor and everything. It's going to be over the top. So, I'm really excited. As David Levithan said, "You had me at Charleston."

It sounds so awesome, doesn't it? I wish I could go! Of course, I had to also find out about what books they were looking forward to or had read recently.

Ms. Margaret Stohl: That's always a really good question. We both have a lot of favorites that are sort of the YA classics from the past. I was just rereading Diana Wynne Jones' Chronicles of Chrestomanci. I really see her as the forerunner to Harry Potter. I like kind of hard-core adult full-time fantasy fantasy.

But, I also love, as Kami does, Holly Black. I love everything she comes up with. I was really interested in Graveminder that just came out from Melissa Marr. I thought that was an interesting new direction.

I read more contemporary fiction than Kami does. I really like Holly Goldberg Sloan who wrote I'll Be There. It's one of my favorite books of this year. And I always look forward to seeing what Gayle Forman and Ally Condie will do. Kam?

Ms. Kami Garcia: I also love Holly Black, in particular her new series which is the Curse Workers. And I love Ally Condie's Matched and Crossed, which is not out yet, but the AREs are out.

And I love a book that just came out called The White Crow, which Marcus Sedgwick wrote, who also wrote Revolver. He's British. I love Victoria Schwab's The Near Witch that I think just came out literally days ago. Sarah Rees Brennan's whole Demon Lexicon series is awesome.

There are too many books. All of our friends--Melissa de la Cruz also wrote a crossover adult novel, The Witches of East End.

Ms. Margaret Stohl: Yeah, that's really good.

Ms. Kami Garcia: I don't think I'm grown up enough to write an adult novel. So, when I read Graveminder and I read that book, it impressed me to see people who can write both so well.

Ms. Margaret Stohl: And I’m reading The Magician King, which is so good by Lev Grossman.

Ms. Kami Garcia: Well, I won't tell you what I’m reading until later as a surprise or the interview would be over, because Margie would come over to my house.

I'm sure you guys do this too as bloggers and people who run book sites. We're always getting different ARCs or different books and trading them. I haven't read Holly Goldberg Sloan's yet, and I'm dying to.

I don't read as much contemporary as Margie does. I read mostly urban fantasy and nonfiction and high fantasy. But, I like buzz books. I loved Paper Towns. I just am not as well read in that genre as Margie is. So whenever she tells me that there's a really good contemporary book I always want to get my hands on it, 'cause she hasn't been wrong yet.

Ms. Margaret Stohl: I'm really partial randomly to witches the way some people are to vampires.

Ms. Kami Garcia: Yeah, me too. I love witches.

Ms. Margaret Stohl: I find myself just reading witches when I'm really just looking for what to do. That's what I return to. I don't know why.

Ms. Kami Garcia: Because they're magical and they can do all different kinds of magic, which is always cool. There are different witches depending on whose witches they are.

I also heard that they're doing a Witches movie based on the Roald Dahl book, Marg, that the kids love.

Ms. Margaret Stohl: That would be great.

Ms. Kami Garcia: Wouldn't that be awesome? I'm a huge Roald Dahl fan.

-One Winner will recieve Signed copies of Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness
-Open to US Shipping Address only
-Open to ages 13+
-Ends August 28 at midnight, CT

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Trailers: Do They Work?

I was browsing through my feed reader the other day and came across two new book trailers that I thought were pretty cool:

Both cool trailers, right? But both books were already on my radar and I've actually already read one of them, so they didn't make me discover something new.

I've noticed that when I mention book trailers when talking with my non-librarian, non-blogger friends, they don't know what I'm talking about. They always seem surprised that book trailers are out there. It seems as though the people that know about book trailers are the people that avid readers (some of who are librarians) who are already involved in the book community online. I know some librarians use book trailers with their teens. We've posted them to our library teen blog and sometimes get a response. I've used book trailers when I've done school visits and used them as part of my booktalks.

It seems that for book trailers to work, they have to have a high budget feel to them and look really cool. They can't just be a slideshow of words and pictures-I don't have the patience to sit through trailers like that I know many teens that feel the same. My teens seem to like animated trailers or trailers that are live action and have the feel of a movie trailer. (Simone Elkeles's book trailers are wonderful for this and sell those books wonderfully!)

So I'm wondering, what do you think of book trailers? Do you know about them? Do your non-reader friends know about them? If you're a librarian, do your teens know about book trailers? Do you like them or not? And how do you use them in your library or on your blog?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tween Tuesday: Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

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

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: 4/5/2011

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About the Book: When Doug Swieteck's father moves his family to "stupid Marysville" Doug couldn't be more annoyed. His new town is boring and there's nothing to do. Doug finds himself on the library steps, exchanging sarcastic words with Lil Spicer, the daughter of the deli owner. Doug decides he'll show Lil he's smart after all and enters the library to find a book of John James Audubon's bird drawings. Doug is drawn to the birds and with the encouragement of the librarian, Mr. Powell, Doug begins to draw his own birds. When Doug learns that the drawings are being sold off to donors because the book is owned by the town, Doug decides to get the drawings back.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Look at any Mock Newbery list for 2012 and chance are you'll see Okay for Now topping the list, and rightly so. This is a book that will you make you laugh and cry-sometimes at the same time!

Doug Swieteck first appeared in The Wednesday Wars, but readers don't need to be familiar with that book in order to enjoy this one. While they are companion novels, each one stands on it own perfectly. But for readers who have read both, there are some minor details that will make them smile.

The synopsis I wrote doesn't even begin to cover all that's covered in this book! There is a lot happening in the story and at times I felt it was a bit too much. Doug is dealing with a gruff, abusive father, and bullying brothers and at times he can see himself being like them. The thing I thought was the most well done with this storyline was that we see Doug's brothers grow and transform. In the beginning, we don't know Doug's middle brothers name (even in The Wednesday Wars, he's known only as "Doug Swieteck's brother"). Yet, as he grows and dare I say, becomes more human, to Doug, we learn his name and get to know him not as a bullying older brother, but as a brother who cares about his family. Much of the book deals with grief, loss, and recovery. Doug's oldest brother has returned from Vietnam and is not the same. Doug is dealing with the pain of his past because of his father.

There's also the storyline about the loss and recovery of Audubon's drawings. The way Gary D. Schimdt ties Audubon's drawings into the various events in Doug's life is fantastic and wonderful and makes the book a must read. (It's a must read for many other reasons too, but this was the thing that stood out the most to me as the most impressive and "I can't believe how he did that!") It's not easy to take something like Audubon and drawings of birds and make it readable and engaging. Doug relates his journey and various event happening in his life to the birds he is drawing. This could have been very corny and cheesy, and yet it comes of in a realistic way that pulls at the readers heartstrings and makes you further wrapped up in the story.

Yes, at times we need to suspend our belief because some of the storylines are a bit too unrealistic. But that's OK, because it's fun to read about Doug's year and his journey from hating "stupid Marysville" to seeing it as home.

I did think that there were some things that caused this book to have too much going on, but I tend to forgive that because of the way the layers all wove together. There are still some loose ends at the end-not everything can be tied up in a nice bow. I did have a problem with the ending a bit-I felt it was a bit too rushed and the father's storyline at the end felt a bit too fairy-tale-esque and not as realistic, so I think I would have liked to wrap that up more so we had better closure there.

Do I still think this book was fantastic? Very much so. Do I think it has a high chance of landing on the Newbery list come January? Most certainly. Do I think you should pick this one up and read it right now? Of course! One of the best middle grade books of the year and one that will stick with you long after you read it.

Audiobook Note: I listened to this one on audiobook and the narrator did a great job. I would recommend the audiobook, but the one thing I think takes away from the story on audio is that in the print book, each chapter opens with a picture of the drawing that Doug is working on and talking about. This can be especially helpful to readers not familiar with Audubon's drawings.

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

Friday, August 12, 2011

YA Movie News

I love these new photos of Katniss and Peeta-makes me so excited for the movie! What do you think??

-Big news this week about The Hunger Games movie franchise. Lionsgate greenlit the sequel, Catching Fire, and set the release date for November 22, 2013. MTV's Hollywood Crush has some casting suggestions up for Finnick-I like their ideas, but I think the choices are too young.

-Entertainment Weekly has some teaser photos of Breaking Dawn: Part One. What do you think?

-We already had a movie version of The Nanny Diaries, but now it looks like we might get a TV one as well, with Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino writing the script. I think this could work well as a TV show, so I'd like to see it take off.

-There are two movies featuring Snow White and we got a glimpse of the title characters in each recently. I think I'm more a fan of the Snow White featuring Lilly Collins-mainly because I'm not sure I can buy Snow White as a kick butt warrior woman-or Kristen Stewart as Snow White. Which one do you like best?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reading Break-I Need Some Suggestions

So my awesome friends, the ILOAS-Abby , Drea, Katie, Angie, and Kelly and I have decided to have a read-a-thon next weekend. Summer Reading Program is over, my work on my state book award committee is finished and I have a break before I start my next committee assignment and a reading marathon sounds wonderfull. So I'm looking to you, my fabulous blog friends and fellow readers for suggestions. What are the must reads I have to get my hands on during my reading break?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tween Tuesday: The Hot List by Hillary Homzie

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

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 3/8/2011

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About the Book: Sophie can feel her friendship with best friend Maddie changing now that they're in seventh grade. Maddie is hanging out with popular girl Nia more and Sophie will do anything to keep things the same. So when she suggests posting their secret "Hot List" at the school, Sophie thinks their secret will keep them close. Instead, it propels the "Hot List" into the ultimate decision list for the middle school and now someone else is adding to the list. Not knowing what else to do, Sophie makes a bet with Nia that she can get anyone on the list. So Nia challenges Sophie to transform dorky, not cool Squid into a Hot Lister, or else embarrass herself in front of her crush.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: At it's core, The Hot List is a story about friendship. Middle school is a strange time to navigate friendships as people change and find new interests, and Hillary Homzie nails that awkwardness perfectly. You don't want to give up the friends you've always known, but how do you let go and make new ones? And can you actually be friends with someone new? And what about being popular and cool-doesn't that count for everything?

What I liked most was the story with Squid and being true to yourself. This isn't a makeover story where the makeover changes them for good, but instead, the makeover helps them see what was best to begin with.

At times the story seemed to not know exactly what it wanted to be, but it got there in the end. Sophie learns to be confident, which I think middle schoolers can relate to. A fun, light tween read perfect for readers looking for a book about tricky middle school friendships.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Speak Loudly Update

So remember several months ago when a gentlemen in Republic Missouri tried to ban Speak, Slaughterhouse Five, and Twenty Boy Summer from the school library? This banning hit home because I live very close to Republic and actually share a library system with Republic. Well, a couple of weeks ago (I know, I'm late in posting-forgive my busy Summer Reading Porgram self, OK?) the school decided to save Speak, but decided Slaughterhouse Five and Twenty Boy Summer were not appropriate. The worst part is that several of the board members didn't even show up to vote and only one that did show up had actually read the books. They also claimed they weren't basing it on "moral choices" but then had issues with the morals in the books (so it wasn't a moral choice then? I'm confused!)

I'm happy to report though that people are still taking a stand. Currently there is a long waiting list at the library to read Twenty Boy Summer and Slaughterhouse Five. I'm also very proud of my library for applying and winning the Judith Krug Memorial Fund to help our library system celebrate Banned Books Week. This is huge because in the years I have worked at my library system, we've never celebrated Banned Books Week, so I'm thrilled to take a stand against banning books. And for all of you who are close by, stay tuned because we may have some very cool special guests!!

I also love that the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library recieved a donation of Slaughterhouse Five and are mailing them free to students who live in Republic.

So continue to speak loudly, take a stand against banning books, and show your support!

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 11/11/2010

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About the Book: Piper has just taken on a challenge-get the band Dumb a paying gig in the next month and she can be their manager. Piper doesn't know much about rock music, let alone how get the five members of Dumb to actually play together as a band. The band is slowly falling apart, but Piper needs the job to pay so she can add to her college fund. It doesn't help that Piper herself has no idea if Dumb is any good. Everyone keeps wondering how a deaf girl can manage a rock band, but Piper is out to prove them wrong.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: First off, I have to apologize to Mr. John. I've had this book on my review shelf and it took me a long time to read it. I think part of me was afraid to pick it up because Antony John is a Missouri author and how horrible would it be to not like a local author?

Well, I shouldn't have worried-I loved this book! I should have read it when I first got it. Why did I keep putting it off?? Seriously, if you're thinking about reading this book, put everything else down right now and read it. You'll read it in one sitting because it's so much fun.

Piper is a fun character you can't help but root for. Her growth from shy girl who hides into a strong, kick-butt girl who can take on a band and the rock music world is so much fun to read. It's a journey you want to go on with Piper and cheer her on the entire way.

The cast of characters is eccentric and varied. I loved how each member of the band was different and added something else to the plot. I also loved that first impressions weren't always correct, but not in a cliched way. The character development throughout felt real.

There are lots of layers to the story in addition to Piper. There's Piper's relationship with her parents-Piper struggles to get along with her father who recently lost his job and never learned to sign, so Piper feels rejected and not good enough. She has a baby sister who is also deaf, but her parents have raided her college fund to pay her implants for her sister so she can have a chance at hearing, leaving Piper feeling left out. Piper and the band are also embarking on a journey to learn about rock music and the importance of music. It's such a richly layered story that kept surprising me at each turn of the page. I loved how much was packed into the story, yet it never felt like it was ever bogged down in too many storylines. Instead it added a nice depth and made it that much better.

There's a bit of romance mixed in with some humor which makes this book have nice mix. While some of bands exploits and experiences are a bit unrealistic, it's fun to dream! If you want a great book that you won't want to put down, pick up Five Flavors of Dumb-it'll leave a smile on your face!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dark Parties Author Interview Plus Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a webinar interview with debut author Sara Grant, author of a new dystopian YA novel called Dark Parties.

About the Book: In a world shrouded in fear and lies, how can you shed light on the truth? Sixteen-year-old Neva lives in Homeland, an isolated country separated from the rest of the world by the Protectosphere. The government insists there’s nothing beyond its borders, but as Homeland’s resources dwindle, people, girls mainly, have started to go missing. If there’s no way out of the Protectosphere, where are they going? Suspecting the government is lying about everything, Neva and her friends stage a Dark Party in the hope of uncovering the truth and finding the freedom they dream about.

So of course, with all that I was intrigued and I couldn't wait to chat with Sara! Since the book starts with a Dark Party (i.e. a party held completely in the dark with the attendees relying on other senses) I had to ask if Sara had ever experienced a Dark Party herself. In the first scene I was reminded of reading a news article about Dark dining-which to me, sounded very scary! Lucky for us, Sara was brave enough to try it!

Sara Grant: When I got the book deal and I was involved in the revision process for Dark Parties, my friends had a party for me at a restaurant in London (where Sara lives) called Dans Le Noir. And we all met and had dinner in the dark, and it was absolutely fascinating.

And actually there were a lot of things in the book that I added because of that experience. I live in a city where you're rarely in the pitch black. You're rarely in that type of deep darkness when it almost feels like the darkness is closing in on you and you have no orientation.

As we walked in the restaurant, you had to put your hand on the person’s shoulder in front of you as they led you to the table. And all the waiters and waitresses were blind.

At one point, the person in front of me stopped because she had lost contact with the person in front of her. And we're standing there in the middle of pitch black, knowing that we had no idea where to go or how to get back out of this room.
Also, the experience of talking to other people changes, because you realize how much conversation goes on with sight. As you're talking to someone, you're looking in their eyes to see if they're listening, you're looking at their body language and you either wrap up a story or you respond to a story using eye contact and all those kind of things.

GreenBeanTeenQueen: I've never thought about that before, but you're right. I think it would be really hard not to look at someone and make eye contact. You wouldn't know if they were actually listening or cared!

I found that the dinner was cut very, very short. And I was with a normally ver talkative group of people, but the conversation was really stilted because we couldn't see each other.

The other thing they did--and this is completely unrelated but fun -- is that they wouldn't tell you what you were having. You had to pick - meat, fish, vegetarian or chef's choice. I went with chef's choice.

GreenBeanTeenQueen: I'm a picky eater, so that would really not work for me!:)

Sara Grant: At the end, they take you upstairs to this lit room and they ask you what you had. And they laughed at me heartily because I guessed something like beef teriyaki, and it was actually alligator and some other kind of bizarre thing that, if I'd have known, I probably never would have eaten.
But it was really interesting. I highly recommend it. I'm not sure I'm going to rush out and do it again very soon, but I highly recommend it.

GreenBeanTeenQueen: Sounds cool-a bit scary, but cool!

I also asked Sara about her thoughts on dystopian worlds and if she thinks some of the stuff in fiction has a possiblity of coming true.

Sara Grant: Where I live in London, we have CCTV, which is Closed Circuit Television. And on one hand, it's fantastic because it keeps you safe and people are watching out for you. But, at the same time, people are always watching.
And if you watch the news sometimes when they're tracking a criminal, how they piece together a person's movements, it feels like there are very few places in the citywhere you're not being watched.

Also, I'm a big fan of CSI and any kind of crime drama. A lot of the technology is there to track. If I check in on Facebook, people can track where I am and what I'm doing already. And people are watching me.

So, in that sense, I think we're not too far from that. I hope we're a very, very long way from ever closing ourselves off and not taking advantage of all the diversity that's out there, all the different cultures and different ideas and different philosophies.

I hope that never happens in a big or small way at all.

Want a chance to read Dark Parties? Check out this sneak peak and then enter for your chance to win a signed copy!
-Contest open to US Address Only
-Contest ends August 17 at midnight CT
-Must be 13+ to enter
-Fill out Google Form to Enter (One entry per person please, multiple entries will be deleted!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tween Tuesday: The Star Maker by Laurence Yep

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

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Historical (1950's)

Release Date: 1/1/11

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About the Book: Artie is the youngest and smallest cousin, which means he is always getting picked on. At one family gathering Artie can't take the bullying from his cousin Petey, so he bragged that he would get everyone firecrackers at the Chinese New Year's celebration. Now Artie has to come up with the money, but he knows he can count of his Uncle Chester to help him out. That is until Uncle Chester has a string of bad luck.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: The Star Maker is a short, simple book that would be great for a classroom read alound for young tweens. The setting is very vivid and the descriptions of San Francisco and Chinatown come to life in the story. I really enjoyed the authors notes at the end about traditional Chinese New Year's celebrations and I think this would make a great read for students learning about Chinese New Year.

The story itself is a bit simple and the characters could have been developed more. I liked the relationship between Artie and Uncle Chester and it was nice to see a positive adult in Artie's life who was helping him with his cousins and encouraging him. Since Uncle Chester was the youngest of his generation, he understood Artie and watched out for him.

The book is short-just 100 pages, so it could be read quickly. I think it would also be a great early chapter book for younger readers who are moving up into chapter books. A nice story of tradition and family.

Book Pairings: Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han (both books have strong family stories and I think they would pair nicely for young tweens)

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC sent by publisher

Monday, August 1, 2011

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Graphic Novel/Contemporary

Release Date: 6/7/2011

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About the Book: After falling down a well, Anya discovers bones and a ghost to go along with them. Emily was murdered ninety years ago. When Anya is freed from the well, she discovers an unexpected souvenir. Emily says she wants to join Anya and have a second chance. Sounds good until Anya finds herself with a very pushy ghost with her own agenda.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: This is a wonderful graphic novel! Anya is dealing with a lot in high school which makes this a great layered story. She immigrated to America from Russia when she was young and has worked hard to blend in and become American. She's embarrassed by her family. She is often a loner and has one friend at school, and her mother is always telling her to befriend another boy from Russia at school, only he's the nerdy kid. She has a crush on popular basketball player Sean. So when a ghost shows up and offers to help Anya out, she discovers that a ghostly friend might not be such a bad idea. She can overhear conversations, have Emily float around the room to look for test answers-it seems like a great deal.

It's through her experiences with Emily that Anya is able to learn who she really is. She discovers her own identity. This a great coming of age graphic novel that I think will appeal to readers of contemporary stories as well as ghost stories.

The artwork is subtle and light on coloring-it has a two-tone color effect that works very well with the story. The art adds emotion and tension to the story and I liked watching how Emily's look changed as we got to know her true personality more.

My only complaint is the ending-it wrapped up a bit too quickly for me and I wanted just a bit more. But it's still a wonderful graphic novel and I highly recommend it!

Book Pairings: Clubbing by Andi Watsonn, Good As Lily by Derek Kirk Kim

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from final copy sent by publisher
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