Monday, January 31, 2011
You can also check out his blog: http://writingmyselfcrazy.blogspot.com/ if you want to see what else he is up to when he is not doing guest posts for me.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Release Date: October 6, 2009
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Well, I am back with another review. This book has been on my TBR pile for quite a while but I could never quite bring myself to dive into it. Finally, after months of listening to the recommendations of GreenBeanTeenQueen and her library teens that I read it, I finally gave in and picked it back up. I just finished it yesterday so here are my thoughts.
About the book: The story focuses on two main characters, the headstrong princess Raisa and a teenage former thief and gang leader named Han. Set in an area of the Seven Realms called The Fells and in its capitol Fellsmarch, Han must learn how to provide for his mother and sister after giving up the leadership of a street gang which had previously been his means for provision. Meanwhile, Raisa is quickly approaching her 16th birthday at which time she will be eligible to be married. Raisa desperately wishes to escape the meaningless confines of fashion, propriety, petty court intrigue, and marriage to learn useful skills that will help her become a good and wise queen like her heroine Hanalea, the warrior queen who defeated the Demon King and saved the world. After a powerful magical item is stolen and the High Wizard begins to grow in influence with the Queen, Han and Raisa each begin adventures that could change the future for everyone in the Realms.
Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan says: I am not entirely sure what to say about this book. I did enjoy it, but I don't think it is something that will I come back to after I finish the trilogy. The characters are likeable enough and the series seems to have a very strong story arc overall, but I felt that this first book was little more than a setup for the rest of the series. I thought it was fairly obvious what was going to happen by the end of the book after reading the first few chapters. On the other hand I was very impressed that Ms. Chima did not seem to give much away about what would happen in the rest of the series. But since this review is about the book itself and not about the series as a whole I have to give it 3.5 stars. I did like the writing, I did not have any major problems with the character developement, but I thought the plot was a little predictable. Perhaps I am judging this book too harshly, but I had been hearing how great it was supposed to be for over a year. I came in expecting so much that perhaps there was no way that this book could live up to the hype. I will continue reading the series because the overall story arc has me engaged and the characters are interesting. I just cannot give it the rave review that I was hoping to give when I started the book.
Full Disclosure: Reviewed partly from ARC copies of the book and partly from audiobook copies from the library
Friday, January 28, 2011
-Lionsgate has set a release date for The Hunger Games movie. The movie will hit theaters March 23, 2012. Now we just have to wait for news on the cast! Thanks to Entertainment Weekly for the news.
-Emma Watson and Logan Lerman are in talks to star in the movie adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. The author wrote the script and will also direct.
-Nickelodeon has pilot in the works based on the upcoming Alloy series (Sept 2011) How to Rock Braces and Glasses. The series is about a popular girl who gets braces and glasses and her popularity status is in trouble, but she finds happiness with music. The pilot is starring Cymphonique, Master P's daughter.
-ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars has been renewed for a second season, which will air this summer.
-Disney Channel has a new original movie called Lemonade Mouth that will premire April 15. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Mark Peter Huges and is about five teens who form a band.
-It's not YA, but older YA readers might be watching HBO's new series Game of Thrones, based on the George R.R. Martin series. The series will debut April 17.
-There's also a new Camelot series on Starz out in April as well. And Merlin is doing well on SyFy (my teens were telling me how much they loved that show). I'm hoping this means a rise of epic fantasy TV shows??
-I've got some I Am Number Four photos to share! My teens are so excited for this movie!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Rating: 3.75/5 Stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Release Date: 6/25/2007
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About the Book: Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie is 34th in line for the throne and flat broke. Her brother the duke is economizing and Georgie has been cut off. When the queen tries to set her up with the horrible Prince Siegfried (aka fishface) Georgie runs from her Scotland castle to her family's London house under the pretense of helping a friend with a wedding. Georgie is hoping to make a new life for herself. She moonlights as a maid (the horror!) and befriends the handsome but also penniless Darcy O'Mara. When a blackmailing Frenchman winds up dead in her bathtub, Georgie has a new job-discover the killer.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I decided to read this book because my mom is a fan of Rhys Bowen and I'm a fan of lighter mysteries, so I thought this would be a good read.
In many ways, I believe Her Royal Spyness would be considered a cozy mystery. It is fairly light on the mystery side, and while there is a mystery plot, it does take awhile before the mystery really takes off. The body doesn’t appear until just over 100 pages into the book and even then the story goes between Georgie’s many responsibilities-spying on the Prince for the Queen, avoiding Prince fishface, visiting her grandfather, trying not to fall for Darcy O’Mara, as well as trying to catch the killer.
There was a lot happening in this book away from the mystery that I think makes it seem lighter than typical mystery fare. Georgie is very much an amateur detective and at sometimes a little bumbling in her detective skills. Her brother is accused of the murder and she's working hard to clear the family name. The mystery is somewhat easy to solve, so readers looking for a real puzzle won’t find one here. Clues are dropped early on and they are fairly easy to solve. But the story is still lots of fun and has lots of humor which I think will attract readers looking for a quick easy read with a bit of mystery thrown in.
I was a bit annoyed with how long it took for the story to get going. I think that’s partly due to the fact that the jacket flap covers a lot of what happens in the first half of the book, so I was expecting the body to show up and Georgie to start in on her case early on. It takes a bit to get there, but leading up to it is fun. Georgie’s mother is an eccentric former actress who flits from lover to lover and the relationship between the two is funny to read. The story is set in 1930’s but I felt at times the story read like a modern story so much that I forgot it was historical. There is some historical information, but not much that I got a ton of historical detail and the 30’s time period and setting doesn’t seem to further the plot.
I didn’t mind that the mystery was fairly easy to solve as I thought getting there was full of humorous adventures and Georige is a very likeable narrator. She has a great voice and in many ways reminded me of a 1930’s mystery-solving Bridget Jones. The only thing that really bugged me in the book was that early on the Queen asks Georgie to spy on her son, the Prince, because he’s interested in some floozy American. I expected this is where the story would take us next, but it’s another 100 and some odd pages before it’s even brought up again!
Since this is the first in the series, there is a lot of character introduction and storyline set up which can get a bit tedious. But the author has me interested enough to read the next book in the series and see where Georgie ends up next. I enjoyed the book and I think Georgie’s wit and spunk is what made the book enjoyable.
Is there Teen Appeal?: Yes, I think older teens and college students would be a good audience for Her Royal Spyness. Georgie is 21, so she's a young narrator. She’s young, she’s out exploring London with friends but also finds herself low on funds (which I think many college students can relate to!), there’s romance, and Georgie’s friend Belinda is convinced that Georgie needs to get out and explore the world of men and become a bit more wise in that area. This adds a lot of friendship dynamics to the story as well as the mother/daughter relationship and I think chick-lit readers would be attracted to these parts of the story.
Book Pairings: Size 12 is Not Fat, Bridget Jones Diary
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from copy I own in my personal library
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I read a lot of MG/tween books because I think it's important to keep up. Even though I work primarily with teens, I have a lot of younger readers that want to start reading YA or are looking for something a little more advanced, so I try to keep up with MG as well. This isn't always easy though and can sometimes be a bit overwhelming!
So I thought I'd ask you for tween suggestions! What books have been big hits with your tween readers? What did you read as a tween that you loved? What tween book should not be missed? Let me know and if it's one I haven't read yet, I'll read and review it on the blog. I'll also compile a list of all the suggestions!
Monday, January 24, 2011
Release Date: 10/6/2009
About the Book: When thirteen-year-old Cassie moves to a new town, she wants to leave behind her smart good girl image. She finds herself drawn into a strange friendship with Alex and soon Cassie is in a world with drugs, sex, secrets and lies. Cassie's life spins in a downward spiral and she finds herself in a twisted friendship with Alex with now way out.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Beautiful is an interesting little book. It's very gritty and perfect for fans of Ellen Hopkins. I can see readers who love gritty realistic fiction devouring this one. But adults will see the many faults that are in the book. It's also a bit odd because the character is so young, but I don't know how many middle school libraries could really carry it and I don't know if older teens would read about the addictions of a 7th grader. So I don't know who the audience really is. I guess 7th and 8th grade readers who are reading the gritty books allready and can get this one at the public library would be the prime audience.
The story seems to jump around too much without much explanation or back story. One moment Cassie is a good girl and the next she's pulled into Alex's world-there's no explanation how she got there. We know Cassie's family moved for a reason and we're led to believe it's some big secret, but we never find out what. In some ways Cassie's fast descent makes sense, especially given her age, but I wish the author would have described it a bit more. I wanted more development for Cassie and why she was choosing to leave her good girl image behind. And what was it about Alex's crowd that really drew her in? The only explanation the author really gives us is that at her old school Cassie tried being popular and that didn't work and she wants to leave her good girl image behind.
Alex is an interesting character and she's a fantastic villain, but we don't get to know her all that much. She was the person I wanted to know the most about, but she seems to come in and out of the story as needed. I wanted explanation for Alex's behavior and wanted to explore her backstory. I found her more interesting than Cassie, but we get to meet her in the beginning and then we miss out on any interaction with Alex for a good portion of the book until the end.
Same with Alex's half-sister, Sarah. Sarah causes tension between Cassie and Alex because Alex can't share friends and while this creates an interesting dynamic, it's only there when the author remembers to throw it in. There are also issues with Alex and Sarah's home life that as an adult reader really bugged me. Most likely, Sarah would not be placed in the home she's placed in, yet the author overlooks this fact to make an interesting story. When I read this for book club, all of us complained about this fact (we're all adults, but I think teens won't care and instead view it as "adults don't care about us.") I also really hated the adults in this book and they do some awful things that as an adult reader was hard for me to read and understand their actions.
The story is told from Cassie's point of view, which may explain why we get a limited view and never get to know more about Alex, Sarah, or the adults in the story, but I wish we had been given a bit more. I never felt too much sympathy for Cassie and never really cared for her. I didn't think she or the other characters where that fleshed out and I wanted them to be. The story left me wanting more.
I think this is a book that teens of realistic fiction would enjoy, but anyone older than fifteen or sixteen would probably have too many issues with it to really enjoy reading it.
Book Pairings: Crank by Ellen Hopkins, Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from personal copy I purchased for my own library
Saturday, January 22, 2011
The Baby-sitters Club: Where Are They Now? This post has a pretty funny description of what our favorite babysitters are doing these days. Thanks to my friend Brooke (via Facebook)
Author James Kennedy has a great contest going: Newbery Winners in 90 seconds. I love this video for A Wrinkle In Time (I think I saw this first on A Fuse #8)
And this I found today (thanks to Yahoo) where a girl reads Fox in Socks super fast-pretty impressive! (Although I wish it were a bit more enunciated-thank goodness there are subtitles on the screen!)
But I really want to work on a few things on my blog and bloggiesta really is the most perfect time to do it! I don't have a bunch of goals, but the ones I have I think are manageable in my limited time this weeked. For bloggiesta I'm going to:
-Update my review list-I haven't added several months of reivews to my master list and it really needs updating!
-Cross-post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads-I've been failing at this and need to do an update
-Write up some program and librarian posts to use for a future date
-Start putting together a reading challenge I've been thinking about for awhile
I've got to share one tip I already learned from this event-Feed Demon is a free RSS reader that lets you comment in the reader. It also sincs up with Google Reader, which is how I currently read the blogs in my reader. Instead of having to scroll through every post, it gives you a snapshot of all the posts in that folder which I love. So far it's made things a million times easier!! There's also Grease Monkey,which is an add on for Firefox that does the same thing, so I highly recommend using one. I'd heard about them before and I'm glad I finally downloaded it and started using it! Thanks to Danielle at There's a Book for the tip!
Are you participating in bloggiesta?
Friday, January 21, 2011
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Release Date: 1/3/2011
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Traveling to Teens Website
About the Book: One hundred years in the future, trees are dying. People are getting sick and Kelsa's father has recently passed away from a mysterious cancer that doctors and scientists can't explain. Then Kelsa meets a strange boy, Raven, who claims he knows what's going on and he needs her help. Raven says he's a mythological creature and magic is needed to stop the ecological disaster that is the world is facing. In Kelsa's high security world, magic isn't something anyone talks about. Raven might be crazy-or he might be telling the truth-and it's up to Kelsa to decide if she can really save the world.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Honestly, I'm not really sure what to think of this book. It's got a mix of a lot of things-there's some science fiction and dystopia, magic and fantasy, and adventure. It's a hard book to fit into one genre. I think it would be a good read, especially for middle school readers, who aren't sure if they really like any of those genres and want a lighter taste of each.
I liked that while the book deals with an impending ecological disaster, it never gets preachy about saving the Earth (which I think can get really annoying). Instead, it's just part of the story and while Raven might mention that humans could have taken better care of the Earth, Kelsa mostly finds his commentary annoying and wants him to stop talking about what they should have done and focus on what they can do now.
The story jumps into Kelsa meeting Raven and starting off on her journey fairly quickly. I think I just felt there wasn't enough character development. I never got to know Kelsa or Raven. I also never got if they were starting to be friends or if it was turning into a bit of romance-the relationship between them needed a bit more development. There were also points of the story that felt a bit disjointed and I wish had been worked out a bit more-they seemed to solve things a bit too easily.I wanted more explanation of Raven's world, his magic, and the fellow shape shifters-that was the part I found the most interesting. And the end was a bit abrupt and left some things hanging-I guess there's a sequel on the way.
I do think this would be a good book for readers who like science fiction and fantasy a bit on the lighter side or readers who enjoy books with ecological themes.
Book Pairings: For some reason this book reminded me in many ways of Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken (not really sure why) but I think they would pair together well.
Full disclosure: Reviewed from ARC sent by author for blog tour
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Release Date: 2/8/2011
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About the Book: Cryer's Cross is a small town in Montana (population 212). So when a freshman girl goes missing at the beginning of the summer, the town is thrown into a tailspin. The news especially upsets Kendall, who can't handle the worry with her OCD. When a second student goes missing and this time it's someone close to Kendall, Kendall isn't sure how she can handle it all. When she starts to hear the voices of the missing calling to her and notices messages scratched into a desk, she wonders if there's something dark at work in Cryer's Cross.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I may read a lot of books, but I don't do horror. Scary stories and Sarah do not mix. But I felt like I needed to give this book a shot for a couple of reasons: 1) I wasn't a fan of Ms. McMann's previous works (Wake, Fade and Gone) but really wanted to find something good this time around, and 2) I was attending a event she was speaking at during ALA and I felt like I should read this book before I went. (Those publishers know how to guilt librarians into reading!)
This one's described as a horror, but I never found it. Me, who can't handle the smallest scare, didn't think this book was scary or creepy at all. I think that's because the horror aspect isn't ever really there and when it's thrown in at the end, it happens too soon to have any real effect at all.
There was too much going on in this short book. Kendall has OCD, which seems to come and go at times as the author's way of explaning Kendall's quirks, but I never really got why it was important for us to know she had OCD. After hearing Ms. McMann speak, I understand that she put it in for her daughter, who also has OCD, and she wanted to feature a character where it wasn't the main focus but another aspect of the character and their daily life. A good idea, but it never really seems to work the way it's intended. For reader's without this knowledge of the author's intent it might seem odd and out of place.
There's romance, but it seemed somewhat forced. I also had some issues with the way the romance was handled (spoilery issues, so I won't post too much here). There was almost a love triangle but the author writes an easy way out which really bugged me and didn't sit well with me the whole book. Instead I just got frustrated over the whole thing.
The mystery feels like it's second string to the main story and I'm not even sure what the main story was supposed to be. Sometimes we have a story about Kendall and her OCD, sometimes it's a story about Kendall, a girl who wants to study dance at Julliard, other times it's about Kendall the soccer player or Kendall the girl worried about the missing teens or Kendall who isn't sure what to think about new boy Jacian. The book as a whole never felt like it all worked together-it was choppy mini stories trying to make it together and it just never quite pulls it off.
As for the horror, I just never thought it was there. Maybe some teens will find it gripping and compelling, but for me, it wasn't any creepier than R.L. Stine. And the way everything is wrapped up in the end is rushed, never explained fully and comes out of the blue. The premise is good, but the execution isn't what I had hoped.
On the plus side, I thought the writing was better this time around and I do have hope for Ms. McMann's future works-this one just wasn't for me. I do think it'll fly off the shelves like her previous books, especially with teens looking for a fast, short read.
Book Pairings: I would pair this with the re-released Lois Duncan titles and Carolyn B. Cooney's YA thrillers.
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from e-galley recieved from Netgalley
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Release Date: 3/9/2010
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About the Book: Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory and remembers everything she ever sees or hears. She's incredibly smart, but no one knows it. Melody has cerebral palsy and can't talk-instead she kicks when she gets excited and drools when she's tired. She's stuck in the special needs class going over baby stuff with teachers who don't understand her. Melody dreams of the day she can voice what's in her head and with the help of a special computer she might get the chance.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I had been hearing things about this book for quite awhile and it kept showing up on mock award lists throughout the year. So I finally sat down and read Out of My Mind and I read it in one sitting!
Melody is a great narrator and one you won't soon forget. She's incredibly smart, funny, and charming but she is constantly frustrated that she can't share this with the people around her. We feel and understand Melody's frustrations. We spend the entire book in her head with her so we know what it's like to not be heard.
The story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Melody's story at times is hard to read-her life is so difficult and always will be. We as the reader are getting a peek into what it's like inside her head and we see how smart and funny she is and it's hard when others don't get to see what we see. The way Sharon Draper makes this work is what makes the story stand out and makes Out of My Mind a powerful novel that really sticks with you.
As difficult as the story is sometimes, there's also lots of humor and hope. Melody's life isn't easy and we don't get the easy way. There isn't a magical ending where everything is all made better. But we still have hope with Melody.
Out of My Mind is a book I wasn't sure I would really enjoy and I ended up loving it. Melody's story is one that needs to be shared. Out of My Mind is a fantastic tween novel and would be perfect for classrooms and book clubs.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Flash Burnout is a fantastic read. Blake's story is one that once you start, you won't want to stop. I wanted to finish it in one sitting but also wanted it to draw out so it wouldn't end. Seriously, if you haven't read this one, get your hands on it. This is a perfect example of how YA contemporary novels should be written."
Friday, January 14, 2011
I'm still unpacking (you should have seen my office at work today-it looked like a tornado came through!) and am back to a long to-do list (both at home and work) so I'll start up with reviews again bright and early Monday morning.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm taking an Adult Lit class this semester so I'll be reading more adult fiction this year than I have in year's past. I'm thinking of making a weekly (or bi-weekly) feature to review these titles. I'm trying to read off the Alex Awards list so I can read adult titles with teen appeal. Should I post reviews or not? I want to know what you think!
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Release Date: 1/1/11
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About the Book: (from publicist) Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn Academy on scholarship, isn't exactly interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be—especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London. Lizzie is happy about her friend's burgeoning romance, but less than impressed by Will Darcy, a pompous jerk who looks down on the middle class. So imagine Lizzie's surprise when Will asks her to the prom! Will Lizzie's pride and Will's prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? From Elizabeth Eulberg comes a very funny, completely stylish prom season delight of Jane Austen proportions.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Prom and Prejudice is a cute, light retelling of the classic Pride and Prejudice. If you have readers who enjoyed the original, this will most likely circulate well among them.
The book stays true to the original which is both good and bad. I would have liked to see a bit more originality but instead at times it felt as though the author was making sure she got in every detail from Austen's book. Because of this we don't seem to get a lot of character development. This is more for fans of the original and readers who know the original storyline. The characters aren't developed much and I knew who they were because of the original story, but readers not familiar with the classic might have some trouble. There's not a lot much of a relationship developed between Lizzie and Will and I was left a bit frustrated because I didn't really ever know what they saw in each other.
The author does take good care of the story and Austen fans will appreciate that Elizabeth Eulberg is a fellow fan. The romance is light and the book's modern take has a bit of a "Gossip Girl" feel to it. It's a quick read and I would recommend it to readers who are already fans of Jane Austen. It would be a cute book to read for a book club along with the original to compare versions. I know my teens are going to love it-it won't stay on my library shelf for long!
If you're a Pride and Prejudice fan, I've got a giveaway for you!!
Two lucky winners will receive a copy of Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg.
-Must be 13+ to win
-US Address only
-Contest Ends January 27 at midnight (CT)
Check out author Elizabeth Eulberg's Facebook page!
Want to win? Fill out the form below to enter:
Monday, January 10, 2011
Printz Award Winner: Ship Breaker Paolo Bacigalupi-I've read this one, now I need to review it! I'm pretty happy with this win and I'm not that surprised. I also think it has a good amount of teen appeal which is nice when it comes to the awards!
Printz Award Honors: Stolen by Lucy Christopher, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (my dark horse pick! It won an honor-so so thrilled!), Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick, and Nothing by Janne Teller. (I've got some reading to do!!)
Newbery Award Winner: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (big surprise and not a well known title)
Newbery Award Honors: Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm, Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, and One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia (still a little annoyed it didn't take the win!!)
Caldecott Award Winner: A Sick Day for Amos McGee illustrated by Erin E. Stead, written by Philip C Stead-I heart this book so so much! I am beyond excited it won, especially since I thought it was only going to get an honor-big happy surprise!!
Caldecott Award Honors: Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill and Interrupting Chicken written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein
Other books and awards I was excited about:
Coretta Scott King Winner: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia (love this book!)
Stonewall Award Winner: Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher (yay-Missouri authors!! And Brian is super awesome and visited by library last year-so thrilled for him!)
Schneider Family Book Award for YA: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (another Missouri author!)
So any surprises for you? Do you like the awards this year? You can find the full 2011 youth media award list at the ALA site!
Friday, January 7, 2011
Release Date: 1/4/2011
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About the Book: Clara Gardner is part angel and part of being an angel blood means completing her purpose. Clara has just started having visions about a forest fire and saving a boy during the disaster and her mother knows this is to be Clara's purpose. So Clara's purpose makes her family move to a new town and start a new life. Clara meets Christian, who is the boy from her visions, and she tries to get closer to him and figure out what her visions are telling her. But annoying Tucker keeps getting in the way and Clara finds herself torn between love and duty and discovers there's a dark side even when it comes to angels.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Another YA paranormal about angels? I have to admit that angels are my favorite aspect of the paranormal genre and I can happily say Unearthly stands out in the genre.
Clara is the one with powers which I always find refreshing when it comes to paranormal. (Seriously, how many paranormal boys do we have in YA?) Clara is aware of her powers from the start and while being an angel-blood could make her beautiful and popular, instead she's somewhat shy, not immediately accepted into her new school and has a quiet beauty about her. Clara wasn't fawned all over and still had to deal with mean girls at school. She's somewhat uncomfortable with her angel-blood and the powers that accompany that, and I appreciated that we see her struggle with her visions and coming to terms with her purpose. While there might be a bit of angst to the story, I never found it to be over the top with angst as happens so often with paranormal stories. And Clara is a strong smart character and she's not really whiny-when she is, it's more typical teenage frustrations with life and I can deal with that and relate.
Yes, there is a love story and while you could say it might be leading to a love triangle, I never felt that it ever got to that point in Unearthly. I hope it stays that way-I'm not the biggest fan of love triangles! Instead it was more Clara being torn between what she had to do and what she wanted to do. Yes, it involved the boys, but they weren't the driving force and it wasn't all about them. Even though Clara finds herself drawn to Christian, it's more because of the visions she's having instead of "lust at first sight." And Tucker and Clara's relationship-love it! They have the best "I hate you but I really like you relationship" and it's done so well that it was fun to read. (And while both boys are quite amazing, I think I love Tucker just a bit more!)
What really made Unearthly stand out for me was the angel mythology. The powers the angels had, the way they experienced glory, their visions and purpose were woven into the story and I was eager to read more about the angel world Cynthia Hand had created. Seriously, the story itself is good, but the angel mythology is amazing-I was blown away with the rules and the world Ms. Hand came up with. We get a look into the angel mythology but there are also things introduced that are just hinted at, so I'm very eager for book two so I can find out more!
While the story wraps some things up, this is obviously the beginning of a series, so there are some plotlines left open which is a bit frustrating. There are also things brought into the story very quickly at the end and we're left hanging with a bunch of new revelations-so not fair! Even if you've shied away from angel stories before, be sure to pick up Unearthly-it's a 2011 debut that doesn't disappoint! Angel fans will be clamoring for book two-I know I can't wait!
Book Pairings: Well, the obvious angel stories-Halo by Alexandra Adornetto, Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, and Fallen by Lauren Kate. I would also pair with Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston and Mistwood by Leah Cypess for themes of family, loyality, duty and love.
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from e-galley recieved from publisher through NetGalley
Thursday, January 6, 2011
I live on an island. It’s a fairly big island, but the winter population is so tiny and close-knit that every time I leave the house, I’m certain to bump into somebody I know. This is especially true if I’m headed to the library – and more often than not, I am.
I have always loved the quiet of libraries. It’s the quality of the quiet that I love most– focused, reverent, curious, calm. But it wasn’t until I moved here, to this island, and found my way to the local public library, that I began to understand how encompassing a space a library can be.
Here, the library is the center of town. It’s a bus stop after school. It’s meeting new friends in the checkout line, and keeping up with emails from the old ones. It’s a mismatched collection of comfy chairs, a spiral staircase to the children’s room and the many adventures inside. It’s story time in the mornings, book groups in the afternoon, helpful hints and readings lists. It’s book people, movie people, research people, people stopping by. Good people with good questions and more good people with the answers.
Last year, when my first book, Wish, came out, we had a little party. Students took the bus and we sat around a table and talked about what it’s like to write a book. I read a bit, we had some snacks, I answered questions. It was casual, and when the allotted hour or so was up, I thanked everyone for coming. I walked to the door and expected others to do the same, but nobody was leaving. The small crowd dispersed to various sections, some downstairs, some to computers, some to kneel down at the stacks by the tables, quietly searching for new titles to love.
That’s the thing about libraries – you go for one reason and end up staying for another, often for much longer than you’d planned. There’s just so much to do – and so many good people to accidentally see.
Thanks Alex! I wish I could head back to Martha's Vineyard-you make the library sound so wonderful!
Be sure to visit Alex's blog and check out her new book, Wishful Thinking!
Genre: Contemporary with a touch of fantasy/magic
Release Date: 1/1/11
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About the Book: Hazel has never had a mother. Adopted as a baby, her adoptive mother died shortly after and Hazel was shuffled from relative to relative growing up without a true home. So when Hazel is granted a gift of magic dresses with the power to make wishes come true, Hazel wishes she had gotten the chance to know her birth mother. Now she's transported to a time where she can make everything right. But will her journey to the past forever change her future?
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Wishful Thinking is a lovely magical book. The story has the feel of a fairy tale and it's a quick read-perfect for a blustery winter day when you want to curl up with a magic tale. It's a quite book-there's not a ton of action, but there's magic and a sweet romance and readers are sure to enjoy it.
Hazel is a character that you can easily like-she could be a depressing character who is down on herself, but instead she remains positive and maybe sometimes a bit naive. The story moves very quickly and it doesn't take long for Hazel to start making her wishes. The result is a story of a girl finding the family she always longed for-and maybe not in the way she always expected.
Hazel finds herself on the island of Martha's Vineyard (a magical place itself) and the people she ends up with are a group of people I would happily spend time with. I wanted to go to their parties and hang out on the beach with them-the cast of characters is one you'll want to step inside the book and be a part of.
There are some plot twists that while I figured out early on were still well done and I'm glad they were there-it kept the story from being too cookie-cutter. Hazel has a interest in photography and it's her time on the island that helps her develop her skills. She's given support and encouraged, but it never comes across as cheesy. Even Hazel's storyline with wanting to meet her mom could have gotten a bit cheesy but it never does. Instead it's a sweet beautiful story about a girl and her three wishes.
Wishful Thinking is a companion novel to Wish, but each book can stand on it's own and it's not necessary to read them in any order. Wishful Thinking is perfect for fairy tale fans and readers who want a little magic in their stories.
Book Pairings: A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn (a fairy tale with a contemporary setting), You Wish by Mandy Hubbard (for another contemporary book with a touch of magic)
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC sent by publisher
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
So I'm going to go ahead and put David Wiesner's Art & Max in the top spot. I don't think it's his best picture book, but it's still fantastic and he' a librarian golden boy-seriously, we librarians gush over his books.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Steed, illustrated by Erin E. Steed
-Oh how I love and adore this book! It's an instant classic-I promise you. I've mentioned it before, but I read this and had to hug it after because I was so in love with it. It's a debut illustrator and while the illustrations are lovely, there are some minor things in the illustrations (like why do some walls in Amos' house have lined wallpaper and others on the next page do not, but it's still the same room? Or maybe I'm on the only one to notice those details) but I think those small details will keep it from top prize.
I have two dark horse picks for the Caldecott.
Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat
-This one's been on my Caldecott radar since I read it. It's a fun book that's quite hilarious and the illustrations give it a Japanese horror film/manga style to it and really make the story. But will the committee think it's too odd?
-I have to admit I'm not the biggest fan of the illustrations-they seem a little creepy to me. But Caldecott often goes for the unique and this one is defiantly unique! But it's another one that might be a little too odd to actually get noticed.
-Seriously, I will cry if this one isn't called Monday morning! Oh, how I love this book! There is so much going on in the story, it's wonderfully layered, it's a powerful book of family, coming of age, and understanding and it's a book that sticks with you long after you read it. This better get top honor or I'm going to be one mad librarian!!
Newbery Dark Horse:
-Yoda surprise, will, hmm? OK, so it's a long shot, but Origami Yoda just might surprise us all. I mean it is Yoda and all!
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
-I'll admit, I debated between Revolution and The Cardturner for the top spot, but after a lot of thought, I'm going to put my prediction on Revolution. I think the story has a lot of depth, the parallels between the characters and the growth of Andie throughout will help this one gain top prize.
-Oh, The Cardturner, how I love this book! In some ways, this one is similar to Revolution in that both books have a sense of magic in them. The Cardturner is a quite surprise of a book and I'm really hoping it gets the award I think it's due.
-This debut book is a beautiful story about grief and healing. It's grown on me since I read it and I'd love to see a shiny sticker on this debut novel.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
-This is a brilliant darkly comic book with alternating points of view and flashbacks. It needs some recognition and it just might be the type of quirky book that appeals to this year's committee.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted here at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens! Join the fun and add your Tween Tuesday link below!
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Release Date: 1/4/2011
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About the Book: Clara Lee is wondering if she has what it takes to become Little Miss Apple Pie. If she was chosen she'd get to ride on a float in the parade, wear a tiara and sash and help Miss Apple Pie toss candy to the crowd. But in order to be chosen, Clara Lee would have to give a speech in front the whole school, which sounds too nerve wracking!
After Clara Lee has a bad dream and tells her grandpa, who learned to interpret dreams in Korea, about the dream, Grandpa says it's not scary, but instead means Clara Lee has good luck coming her way! Could good luck bring Clara Lee her apple pie dream? And is she even American as apple pie enough to be Little Miss Apple Pie?
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I'm a big fan of Jenny Han, especially her first novel, the fantastic tween novel Shug. So when I saw she was heading back to MG territory, I was thrilled!
Clara Lee is a younger tween read, but perfect for young tweens looking for an easy chapter book to read. Clara Lee's voice is fun and she surrounds herself with a memorable cast of characters. Her relationship with her Grandpa is sweet and I loved when Clara Lee would try to spell the words Grandpa was trying to read-too cute. She has an annoying little sister Emmeline, who must be the star of everything and tries to steal the spotlight. The sister dynamic will resonate with anyone who grew up with a sister (older or younger)-Jenny Han has it spot on! And Clara Lee's frustration with her parents will be something readers can easily relate to.
Clara Lee isn't perfect-and that's what I like about her. Sure, she's full of optimism and has a lot of spunk to her, but she also gets upset with her parents after they punish her, as well as getting into a disagreement with a friend at school. Life is never easy or fair, but Clara Lee learns to deal with it the best she can.
The book has a nice message without ever getting too preachy and messagey. In fact, it's so well written into the story that I think tweens won't feel like they're getting a book with a "lesson" but instead will just enjoy a fun story. I wish the book had been a bit longer. I really liked Clara Lee and wanted to spend just a bit more time with her. There are also some side characters I wish we could have gotten just a bit more of. I really hope this turns into a series because I'd love more adventures with Clara Lee!
Book Pairings: Clara Lee would pair perfectly with other spunky tween heriones like Clementine, Judy Moody, Ivy & Bean, and Piper Reed. Although the book is much shorter, I think readers who enjoy the Allie Finkle series would also enjoy Clara Lee.
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC picked up at ALA Annual from publisher
Monday, January 3, 2011
Because I love my readers and this blog would be nothing without you, I'm making this contest international!! Here's how it works:
-One winner will recieve a shopping spree of $25 (US dollars) at The Book Depository
-You must live where Book Depository ships (otherwise I can't ship the books to you)
-Must be 13+
-Contest ends January 9 at midnight central time
-Fill out form below to enter:
Saturday, January 1, 2011
10. Hush by Eishes Chayil-a heartbreakingly beautiful look into a strict religious community-this book is a haunting read and will stick with you long after you read it. I'm thrilled that it made the Morris list this year!
9. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins-Just when I think paranormal is the same ol' thing, Hex Hall comes out and manages to combine boarding schools, paranormal and humor into a book that has just the right mix of laughs and mystery for my liking!
8. Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder-I think this is Lisa's best book so far. It's an amazing novel in verse that takes the reader on a emotional journey and I just couldn't stop reading. Beautiful writing and a love story to remember-I read this is one sitting.
7. Sea by Heidi Kling-I didn't know what to expect from this book and it took me by surprise. A wonderfully written contemporary romance with a character who travels the world and does good. This one could have gone the preachy route but it never did and the unique storyline made it stand out. A fantastic debut!
6. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson-This was a book that I wasn't sure how much I liked it when I first read it, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. The quirky characters have stuck with me and the story turned out to be one I couldn't forget.
5. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins-Love or hate the finale, you have to admit this series was amazing. Me, I thought Mockingjay wasn't anything that I expected and the emotional ride that Suzanne Collins put her readers on throughout the book and the surprises she pulled off make Mockingjay land a spot on my list. (This is the one Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan disagrees with the most-it's on his list of disappointing books of the year!)
4. A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee-A historical mystery with historical details deftly weaved into the storyline, a great character twist, and witty banter between the main characters-I was sold from the first page! One of my favorite debuts of the year!
3. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly-Figuring out just how the two storylines come together and uncovering the small details of how the characters connect made this a fantastic and memorable read.
2. The Cardturner by Louis Sachar-A novel about bridge for teens turns out to be a fantastic book with a bit of magic. I don't even know if I can really explain why I loved this one, but it left me wanting to hug the book at the end, I loved it that much.
1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins-Contemporary romance done right! This book is incredibly swoonworthy and it's another one that I wanted to hug after finishing. A hot English boy in France? I'm so there!!