Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wanderlove-Take a Virtual Vacation

Kirsten Hubbard is one cool author! Her new book, Wanderlove, is set Central America. So what better way to celebrate a backbacking novel than taking a trip herself? So Kirsten has set off on her own trip and she's blogging all about it. Readers can also post questions for Kirsten while she's traveling and post their own photos. Take a look at the site and you'll be in the mood for a vacation!! And if you submit a photo, you can be entered into a contest to win a signed and butterfly doodled hardcover of Wanderlove!
Here's more info from the publisher:
 Kirsten Hubbard’s new book, Wanderlove, is set in Central America. But not just in one location -- in over a dozen! Wanderlove settings range from bustling capital cities to dense rainforest to tiny Mayan villages to idyllic Caribbean islands, and each is special in its own way.

Most exist in real life; all are based on real life. We’re very excited to share these amazing places with you in the novel -- and on the brand new Wanderlove-themed Tumblr site.

The site is all about favorite places: in Wanderlove and beyond, Kirsten’s places and YOUR places. That's right.
We want you to participate!
wanderlove is about celebrating our favorite places, and experiencing each other's. take a photo, or find a photo (one you’ve taken yourself & have the rights to) of your favorite place. it could be a place you’ve traveled to, long ago or recently; a special spot in your neighborhood, city or town; or even in your house or backyard. be as creative as you want. include a few sentences about why the place is special to you – why you *get* it, why it sticks in your heart. thank you!

You can also submit via email at wanderbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

Everyone who
submits an image and response between now and March 5th (the day she gets back from Central America) will be entered to win one of threesigned, annotated and butterfly-doodled hardcovers of Wanderlove. They'll be super-special, even if you've already pre-ordered the book (and I so so so hope you have)! The giveaway will be open to anyone, anywhere in the world.

If you participate, make sure you include your name and email address (don't worry, the latter is confidential and only for use if you win).

(Kirsten will host another HUGE giveaway March 13th, at and YA Highway -- with prizes including Wanderlove art prints, bookmarks, and bracelets just like Rowan's.)

Kirsten will also be featuring all the destinations in Wanderlove, with photos she took herself over the years. She’ll cross-post her personal Wanderloveposts
here as well as Tumblr, so you can follow along on Bria's journey in either spot.

You can also ask her questions about Wanderlove, backpacking, or writing, and she’ll do her best to answer them on the site -- or in video form from Central America, where she’s currently backpacking through Central America!

Follow! Reblog! Join in! And enjoy :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tween Tuesday: Popular Books in My Library

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens. I haven't posted a booklist in awhile, so I decided one was due!

When giving reader's advisory to library patrons, I have my go to authors and series that I always suggest. The tweens on the other hand have their go to authors and series. I was thinking about what the tweens ask for compared to what I suggest. Here is my (very unscientific) results of what is popular at my library:

Tween Go To Books:
 Margaret Peterson Haddix
Mary Downing Hahn
Carolyn Keene
Peg Kehert
Jeff Kinney
Rick Riordan

My Go To Books:
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows (for younger tweens)
Allie Finkle Series by Meg Cabot
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
Catwings by Ursula K. LeGuin
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Herbert's Wormhole by Peter Nelson
Alcatraz Series Brandon Sanderson
Time Warp Trio by John Scieskza (for younger tweens)
Meanwhile by Jason Shiga
Sammy Keyes Mysteries by Wendelin Van Draanen

A lot of my go to books are readalikes for popular series that are usually checked out and I'm looking for something new to interest the tween readers. Others, like Anne, Mrs. Frankweiler, A Wrinkle in Time, and Catwings, are favorites from my childhood.

Sometimes I can sell the tweens on these books, other times it doesn't work as well. But I always give it a try because I love sharing my favorite books!

What books are popular with your tween readers and what books are popular as your suggestions?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz Giveaway

Have you met the Spellmans? The Spellman family are a group of private investigators-are a funny dysfunctional family! While the books are published for adults, the series has teen appeal. In fact, the first book, The Spellman Files, won an Alex Award in 2008!

Author Lisa Lutz wants to reach out to a younger audience and ensure that her books are read by future generations, so she gave her latest book, Trail of the Spellmans, to some tween readers. Here's what happened:

I love it!! Hilarious, right? You know you want to read it now!

I want to help Ms. Lutz get her book into the hands of new readers, so I'm happy to say that thanks to Simon & Schuster (who is amazing!) I have a copy of Trail of the Spellmans to give away to one lucky winner!

About the Book: For the first time in Spellman history, Isabel Spellman, PI, might be the most normal member of her family. Mom has taken on an outrageous assortment of extracurricular activities—with no apparent motive. Dad has a secret. Izzy’s brother and sister are at war—for no apparent reason. And her niece keeps saying “banana” even though she hates bananas.

 That’s not to say that Izzy isn’t without her own troubles. Her boyfriend, Henry Stone, keeps wanting “to talk,” a prospect Isabel evades by going out with her new drinking buddy, none other than Gertrude Stone, Henry’s mother.

Things aren’t any simpler on the business side of Spellman Investigations. First, Rae is hired to follow a girl, only to fake the surveillance reports. Then a math professor hires Izzy to watch his immaculate apartment while he unravels like a bad formula. And as the questions pile up, Izzy won’t stop hunting for the answers—even when they threaten to shatter both the business and the family.

About the author: In Trail of the Spellmans (Document #5), LISA LUTZ has delivered another knockout adventure in whatLibrary Journal has deemed a “side-splitting series.” This quirky and hilarious family of sleuths provides entertainment for days, and Izzy’s uncommon, unforgettable, undeniably addictive voice leads the way. In addition to writing the Spellman series, Lutz is also the coauthor of Heads You Lose, written with David Hayward. Visit Lisa at

 Want to win? Leave a comment below!
-open to ages 13+
-US mailing address only
-one entry per person
-contest ends Sunday March 4 at midnight central time

Friday, February 24, 2012

YA Movie News

-The official track listing for the Hunger Games soundtrack has been released. The soundtrack is out March 20 and it looks like it will be very folksy and indie rock.I'm curious to see if they use any of the songs from the soundtrack in the film, or use a score instead and use the soundtrack over the credits. Somehow I just can't see having popular songs used in the arena.

-Remember that CW pilot in the works based in part on the 1980s TV show Beauty and the Beast? Kristin Kreuk from Smallville has been cast in the Beauty role. Thanks to Cynopsis for the news.

-Another CW show in development is The Selection, based on the upcoming YA novel by Kiera Cass. Aimee Teagarden from Friday Night Lights has been cast as America Singer, one of the women competing for the love of a prince.  

-Summit Entertainment has a writer attached to the movie adaptation of Erin Morgenstern's novel, The Night Circus. Moira Buffini also wrote the script for Jane Eyre. I think this will be a difficult book to adapt and I really hope the movie turns out good!

-The Beautiful Creatures movie will be released on February 1, 2013. I'm getting very excited with the casting choices and I can't wait to see the movie!

-The Mortal Instruments movie was dropped by Screen Gems, the studio that was set to produce the film. Author Cassandra Clare wrote a note to fan saying this doesn't hurt the movie and it's still in production-the company that owns the rights to the film is still committeed to making the movie and could look elsewhere. I just wonder if this will delay the filming a bit longer.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

J.K. Rowling's New Book

J.K. Rowling will be back with a new book-this time for adults. The title, release date, and details were not released and should be out later this year. The big change is that now Rowling will be published by Little Brown in the U.S.

Rowling said "Although I've enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series, which has been published so brilliantly by Bloomsbury and my other publishers around the world," Rowling said in a statement released by Little, Brown. "The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry's success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher. I am delighted to have a second publishing home in Little, Brown, and a publishing team that will be a great partner in this new phase of my writing life."

Will you read the new book? I'm very excited and can't wait to see what's in store!!

Cover Talk: When Cover Changes Go Bad

Earlier this week I posted about cover changes from hardcover to paperback. I included books I thought had gone under a good cover makeover. Then over the past few days, as I was thinking about covers, I came across some that had undergone a makeover that I thought went from good to bad. This isn't an uncommon occurrence. And what one person says is bad, another person may love. It's all about marketing and trying to reach a certain audience.

First up is Between Shades of Gray. This book was on the Morris Award Shortlist and the honor is well deserved. It's a beautifully gripping story that is heartbreaking and haunting. I think the original hardcover has the right feel of loneliness, isolation, and arctic cold:

It's a simple cover and it says a lot. Then we get to the paperback edition:

I actually think this is a lovely cover-just not for this book. To me this looks very paranormal and seems to match a lot of the covers that are in the YA market right now. I don't get a historical fiction feel from this cover-instead it looks more like a sad paranormal breakup story.

Next up is not only a recover but a rebranding and rerelease under a new name. Dani Noir was released as a middle grade title in 2009 and I adored the cover:

It's so mysterious and noir perfect, right? It's also very unique and I felt it really stood out among other middle grade fare. Here's the original book description:

If this were a movie, you'd open to the first page of this book and be transported to a whole other world. Everything would be in black and white, except maybe for the girl in pink polka-dot tights, and this really great music would start to swell in the background. All of a sudden, you wouldn't be able to help it — you'd be a part of the story, you'd be totally sucked in. You'd be in this place, filled with big lies, mysterious secrets, and a tween girl turned sleuth....
Zoom in on thirteen-year-old Dani Callanzano. It's the summer before eighth grade, and Dani is stuck in her nothing-ever-happens town with only her favorite noir mysteries at the Little Art movie theater to keep her company.
But one day, a real-life mystery begins to unravel — at the Little Art! And it all has something to do with a girl in polka-dot tights.... Armed with a vivid imagination, a flair for the dramatic, and her knowledge of all things Rita Hayworth, Dani sets out to solve the mystery, and she learns more about herself than she ever though she could.

Now the book is being rereleased as Fade Out-and being rebranded to reach an older audience:

My main issue with this is that I don't think this cover captures the book as well as the original cover. I also think this also looks too much like all the other covers on the shelf right now. It's trying to market to a paranormal audience even though it's not a paranormal book. Remember that original description of the book? Check out this new, updated copy that's again, trying to reach for an older market:

Life echoes art in this sassy, heartwrenching coming-of-age story from the author of Imaginary Girls.
It’s summer and Dani Callanzano has been abandoned by everyone she knows. Her dad moved out, her mom is all preoccupied being broken-hearted, and her closest friend just moved away. Basically it’s the end of the world.
At least she has the Little Art, her favorite local arthouse movie theater. Dani loves all the old black-and-white noir thrillers with their damsels in distress and their low camera angles. It also doesn’t hurt that Jackson, the guy who works the projection reel, is super cute and nice and funny. And completely off-limits, of course—he’s Dani’s friend’s boyfriend, and they are totally, utterly perfect together.
But one day, Dani stumbles across a shocking secret about Jackson—a secret too terrible for her to keep. She finds herself caught in the middle of a love triangle with enough drama to rival the noir-est film noir she’s ever seen.

And I saved the worst cover change for last. Are you ready??

The hardcover of My Beating Teenage Heart is nice and simple and I like it.

Not bad, right?

Wait til you see the paperback cover:

Anyone else getting a flashback to the 80s? The books that I do have on my library shelf that have 80s and early 90s covers do not get checked out. I also think the colors are just odd and the glowing yellow on her neck makes the girl like she has a starry rash. I also think this really has little to do with the book, where the first cover at least, to me, shows that this book will be sentimental and heartbreaking. The paperback cover just looks trippy.

Thoughts? Are these cover changes good or bad? Any other cover changes you've come across that have totally missed the mark?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Downton Abbey Inspired YA

Downton Abbey may be over for this season-check out my recap of the Christmas Special with Melanie!!

I think this was my most awesome find of the day! Wentworth Hall is a new YA book coming in May. Here's the description:

A lush, historical novel about the secretive Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall!
The prettiest people often have the ugliest secrets…
Eighteen-year-old Maggie Darlington has turned into an entirely different person. The once spirited teen is now passive and reserved. A change Lord and Lady Darlington can’t help but be grateful for.

It’s 1912, and the Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall have more than just the extensive grounds to maintain. As one of Britain’s most elite families, they need to keep up appearances that things are as they have always been…even as their carefully constructed fa├žade rapidly comes undone.

Maggie has a secret. And she’s not the only one…the handsome groom Michael, the beautiful new French nanny Therese, the Darlingtons’ teenage houseguests Teddy and Jessica, and even Maggie’s younger sister Lila are all hiding something. Passion, betrayal, heartache, and whispered declarations of love take place under the Darlingtons’ massive roof. And one of these secrets has the power to ruin the Darlingtons forever.

When scandalous satires start appearing in the newspaper with details that closely mirror the lives of the Darlingtons, everyone is looking over their shoulder, worrying their scandal will be next. Because at Wentworth Hall, nothing stays secret for long.

The cover even has the tag line "And you thought there were secrets at the abbey..."

Anyone else thinking this could be Downton Abbey for YA? I'm excited by that idea and it got me thinking about other Downton Abbey-esque titles to recommend to YA readers. I think these would all be great for those mourning the end of Season 2. I'd love to hear any other suggestions you might have as well!

The Luxe Series by Anna Godbersen
A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
Wither by Lauren DeStefano (I know it's dystopian and in the future, but I thought it had a very Downton Abbey feel to it)
The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin (Not YA but a great Downton Abbey read-alike)

Twilight Gives Love Advice

I was browsing through coming soon titles today and came across this book:

From the Book: Combining elements from the popular Twilight saga with accessible pop psychology, a guide to finding eternal love
Stephanie Meyer's supernatural romance saga has inspired millions of people worldwide with its tale of a young girl torn between two apparently perfect loves. Many fans are now on the hunt for their own real-life Edward or Jacob. Luckily for all the Twilight fans out there, this book uncovers the seven secret steps towards true love. Inspired by the saga, these secrets reveal the relevance of Bella's experiences to your own love life, explain your feelings for Edward and Jacob, and expose the perils of Twilight's powerful, romantic messages.

I was just talking with friends the other night about what terrible relationship models are in Twilight! I can't believe this is actually a book (out May 1!). All I can hope is that the book tells girls not to be a wet blanket like Bella but instead tells them to make friends, stand up for yourself and not wait around for a boy to save you. Anyone else think this is a bad idea? 

Author Interview: Diane Zahler

Please welcome Diane Zahler to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Ms. Zahler writes awesome fairy tales for tween readers! Check out my reviews of A True Princess and Princess of the Wild Swans.

Why do you write for tweens?

That’s the time I remember most vividly from my own past. Not necessarily in a good way, but very intensely. And that was when books meant the most to me. Fairy tales and fantasies were a cherished escape, and realistic stories (I liked the ones about outsiders, like Harriet the Spy and A Wrinkle in Time, best) helped me understand that I wasn’t alone in the way I felt. I hope that my books can do a little of that for readers too.

A Wrinkle in Time is  one of my favorite books-I adored it as a tween! If you could live in a fairy tale, which one would you choose?

You really have to pick carefully. A lot of the original versions are incredibly grisly (Cinderella’s stepsisters cut off their toes to fit into the glass slipper and have their eyes pecked out by birds; Snow White’s stepmother is forced to dance in white-hot shoes). Still, I’ve always loved “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” The idea of twelve sisters who dance with handsome princes every night…well, if you ignore the fact that they’re dancing to their deaths, it’s very romantic. And they always wear such great dresses in the illustrations.

Very true-you do have to be careful! Fairy Tales seem to have become increasingly popular-in TV (with shows like Once Upon a Time) and books, especially for MG and YA readers. What do you think the appeal of fairy tales is that makes them so popular?

Fairy tales are so universal. Many of them started as oral tales that helped to explain or elaborate on people's most basic fears and desires. Readers recognize their own feelings when they read, even hundreds of years after the original stories were written down, and even in their retold forms or on television. They’re still about the fear of abandonment, the desire to win the beloved or complete the quest, the battle between good and evil.

Great point-so many fairy tales have good and evil at their core, which so many stories are all about. Who is your book crush (from childhood or current crush)?

Aragorn, from Lord of the Rings. Isn’t he everyone’s book crush? Even in his Viggo Mortensen guise he works for me. And the wizard Ged in Ursula LeGuin’s Wizard of Earthsea trilogy. Do we see a pattern here? Fantasy rules!

Fantasy does have some very crushworthly boys! I love Aragorn too! Thanks for stopping by Diane!

Tween Tuesday: Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler

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: 5/5 Stars

Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale

Release Date: 1/31/2012

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: When her father the king arrives home with a new wife, Princess Meriel and her brothers are all suspicious. When Meriel discovers the new queen has sent her brothers to school, she believes something more sinister is at work. Meriel discovers that the queen has turned her brothers into swans. With the help of her brother's friend Riona, Meriel finds a way to break the spell. But with winter coming, will she be able to free her brothers of their swan form before the lake freezes over or will they have to fly south or perish?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: If you work with tween readers who love fairy tales, Gale Carson Levine and Shannon Hale, make sure you are stocking Diane Zahler's books in your library. Her fairy tale retellings are the perfect books to get into the hands of tween readers looking for exciting fantasy. I'm always impressed with Ms. Zahler's descriptive worlds and attention to details. Her cast of  characters are always memorable and enjoyable and Princess of the Wild Swans is no exception.

Ms. Zahler has a skill at packing a lot of detail and plot into a short book and keeping the story moving. She's also a master of showing and not telling her readers. Meriel starts out as a bit of a stuck up princess who honestly is a bit rude and yet has a wonderful transformation and she learns to trust others and accepts the help of those around her. This never is a heavy handed message, but is instead woven nicely into the storyline as Meriel needs to rely on the townspeople around her to help free her brothers. Instead of looking at them as "common folk" she has to accept that they have something to offer her. There's also a nice story about one of Meriel's brothers falling for a girl in town, Riona, who is a half witch and all that they face because they are not of the same position.

There is a nice mix of magic, friendship, family and loyalty to make this a wonderful fairy tale. I wanted to be part of the town because the cast of characters was just so fun. I would love a visit to the apothecary's shop and getting to know Riona and her brother Liam and learning more about their garden. This book was like taking a trip to wonderful world that felt new and familiar at the same time. I would love to visit it again!

If you're a fan of fairy tales, Princess of the Wild Swans is a book to add to your reading pile. I can't wait to hand this one over to my avid tween readers!

Book Pairings: Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George, The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

Reviewed from ARC I picked up at ALA

Monday, February 20, 2012

Judge a Book By It's Cover

Cover changes are part of the publishing industry. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Working with teens, books in my library get judged by their covers all the time. And I'll admit it, I judge the covers to. Sometimes the original cover doesn't make me want to pick up the book at all. Then, the cover changes and I'm interested! The content hasn't changed, the story is the same, but the cover change had made all the difference.

Dust City is a fairy tale-esque story about a wolf trying to solve the mystery of his family's past. This hardcover cover is pretty cool and I like it, but I really like the paperback cover:

I think this paperback cover has more crossover appeal and is appealing to older readers. I also think it gives it a hint of comedy and I can tell it's fairy tale based, whereas the first cover looked more paranormal.

The hardcover for Shadow Hills has an OK cover, but it's really nothing special. It's plain and forgettable.

The paperback looks more interesting to me. It has a more haunting feel to it. I also think this cover stands out a bit more than the hardcover.

I don't know why exactly, but the hardcover for Siren just doesn't appeal to me. I like the texture that makes it look as though it's underwater, but other than that, I'm not a fan.

I really love this new paperback cover. I think it says more about the book and it feels more mysterious.

The hardcover for Ruby Red isn't bad-in fact I like it a lot. I do think it makes the book look like it's for a younger audience though. The paperback looks more aged up:

I think this is a beautiful cover and I think it tells a bit more about the time travel/historical aspect of the book that the hardcover misses.

Any other hardcover to paperback covers that you like or dislike?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Downton Abbey Recap: Episode 6

Welcome to Melanie and Sarah's Downton Abbey recaps! I can't believe the season is almost over! Here's what happened in episode 6:

(No, No, No!!)

The soldiers have left Downton and life is returning to the way it was before the war-as much as it can. Many of the household are feeling restless and useless. Lord Grantham is feeling as though he has no purpose and is feeling a bit lost. He runs into Jane, the new maid, and they chat about her son. Later on, he sees her again and kisses her. He invites her into his room later on, but then both decide this is not what they need and Jane decides to resign from the house and look for work elsewhere.

Sarah: I was SOOO mad at Lord Grantham and his thing with Jane. I knew there had to be more to her story! I feel bad for Jane, but both are feeling a bit lost and confused right now. Also, Cora's being a bit mean, telling Lord Grantham that Matthew should leave the house and I started to dislike her a bit in this episode. Actually, she's been bugging me a bit the last few episodes-she's been so snotty lately! I am glad that Jane decided to leave-I think she made a hard decision but it was the right one and I like her a bit more for that.

Melanie: Watching Lord Grantham, a character I've always admired be a villain, first against his wife then later on, Sybil, was incredibly painful. Personally, I don't think Cora was being mean. She was getting on with her life as normal as she could, but Grantham couldn't seem to find his footing and seemed to want their daily activities to go on as they were before the war- an impossibility. While I agree that her wanting Matthew to move out may seem harsh, I think she was doing it in the interest of Mary. Frankly, I think she knew what she was talking about.

 (Ethel trying to tell the truth to the Bryants)

Cora has heard from the Bryant's who want to visit Downton because it was the last place there son was before he died in the war. Mrs. Hughes arranges for Ethel to arrive with the baby and hopes to sneak Mrs. Bryant away for a bit so she can meet her grandson. Ethel bursts in on lunch and announces that Charlie is their grandson. Mrs. Bryant believes her but Mr. Bryant wants nothing to do with the child. Later on, the Bryants write that they have had a change of heart and want to speak to Ethel again. They offer her the chance to have Charlie live with them and raise him as a gentleman and cutting her out. Ethel begs to be a nursemaid, but Mr. Bryant won't hear of it. In the end, Ethel decides she must keep her child, even if it will be difficult for them both.

Sarah: Poor Ethel-she can't get a break. I do wish Mr. Bryant wouldn't have been so stuffy, but Mrs. Bryant has a heart. I wonder if we'll see her again and if she'll try to help Ethel out.

Melanie: I predict Mrs. Bryant will sneak away to see Charlie. It's obvious she wants to be a part of Charlie's life.

Sarah: Agreed. I think she'll be back.

Matthew confides in Bates that he has felt a tingling in his legs, although the doctor thinks it's just his imagination. He doesn't tell anyone and tries not to get his hopes up. One evening, he reflexivly stands from his chair to help Lavinia who has tripped and the secret is out-Matthew is regaining feeling in his legs. Matthew and Lavinia decide to move their wedding up and hope to marry at Downton. This means Richard and Mary's wedding will be delayed until the summer.

 (Gotta love meddling grandmothers!)

As Mary hears the news about Matthew and Lavinia's wedding, she tries to hide her disappointment, but Violet notices. She approaches Matthew and tells him that Mary is still in love with him and could he love her in return? Matthew says that he couldn't turn Lavinia away after she stood by him even when there was no hope.

Melanie: I was a bit irritated when Lord Grantham simply agreed to Matthew and Lavinia marrying at Downton at the time of their choosing without at least consulting Mary first. After all, she is his daughter!

Sarah: I loved that Violet went and talked to Matthew! She was so funny and it's so obvious both of them really care for each other. Will they ever be able to be together?? The agony!!

Sir Richard asks Anna to spy on Mary for him and report back to him about where Mary has been and who she talks to. He offers to pay Anna nicely, but Anna refuses. She reports this to Carson and Mrs. Hughes. Carson decides he cannot work for a man that would ask such a thing and turns down the offer to go with Mary and Richard to Haxby when they are married.

Melanie: At first I thought Richard was trying to be nice. I thought maybe he wanted to know Mary's favorite type of flower, or what she liked to do. But no. He was trying to be an obsessive control freak.

Sarah: Obsessive control freak is right! Richard is so evil! Now he wants to spy on Mary? The guy is horrible ball of jealously and he will stop at nothing to get his way. Even though Mary isn't thrilled with Richard, she's not been unfaithful to him and I think she has acted the best she can. She has spent time with Richard and she's loyal to him. She cares for Matthew, but she's not trying to stop his wedding. Richard is crazy with jealousy!

 (Happiness lasts a short while)

Bates is concerned that he will be suspected in the death of Vera Bates. He confides in Anna that he had bought rat poison at Vera's request and he believes that is what killed her. Anna urges him to tell the police but Bates refuses to say anything. He also shows Anna a letter that Vera wrote to a friend saying she feared for her life. All evidence points to Bates, but Anna says she will stand by him and that she will do that as his wife. They move their wedding date up and marry. Mary helps set up a room for them and the two are able to spend a night together as husband and wife.

Sarah: I'm so happy they are finally together, even under dark circumstances. I still think there's something up with O'Brien-she seemed very curious about all the news about Mrs. Bates. But I also wonder if Vera did it all herself and framed Bates because she knew what it would look like. When Mary showed Anna the room that she had for them, it was so sweet and such a lovely moment for Bates and Anna. I worry for what they have in store-things will not be easy for them.

Melanie: All I can say is, Bates better be innocent. (Sarah: Agreed!!) Anna has given up a lot for him and will have to struggle to stay strong through the coming time.


Sybil is not happy to return to the way life was before the war. She tells Branson she has made her decision and will come away with him. Sybil does not show to dinner and Mary discovers that Sybil has run away. Edith and Mary decide to go after her and find Branson and Sybil in a local inn (just sleeping, he is a gentleman after all!) They convince Sybil to return home with them although Sybil says her feelings will not be swayed. Later, they decide to tell the family, which does not go over well. Lord Grantham is upset with Sybil and refuses to give his blessing. He even meets up with Branson at the inn and tries to pay him off. Sybil announces that she will be leaving after Matthew and Lavinia's wedding to go to Dublin where Branson has gotten a job as a journalist. She will go with or without her families blessing. Later Lord Grantham gives in and says they can have his blessing and be married.

Sarah: I'm so glad Sybil and Branson are finally together after all that! Also, I love that he's such a sweet guy-it was so cute to see him sleeping in the chair next to Sybil in the inn. I did think it was hypocritical of Lord Grantham to get all upset about Sybil when he's been off making out with the maid, but no one can know about that right?

Melanie: You know, I kind of think that Carson knows about Grantham making out with the maid. His overly loud silverware clatter when Grantham and Jane were talking in the dining room? Not an accident.

Sarah: Ooh...good point. I think he knows something too.

Melanie: But I'm very happy about Sybil and Branson as well. I haven't been completely fond of Branson this season, but watching him stand by Sybil throughout her fight with her father made me proud of him. Also, during this episode I just figured out his name was Tom. And I was proud of Sybil as well. She got into an argument with her father while Violet was watching/refereeing and stood her ground!

Sarah: Yes! Go Sybil!!

(Why is every scene with them so heartbreaking??)

As the house is being readied for Matthew and Lavinia's wedding, many of the household are feeling ill. Spanish Flu arrives and Carson, Cora and Lavinia all are stricken with the illness. Lavinia seems to be doing well and Cora has taken a turn for the worse. Matthew and Mary share a moment as they are dancing and end up kissing. Lavinia had risen from her bed and witnessed the whole thing. She tries to tell Matthew that they should call off the wedding, that she's not the one he's supposed to be with. She then starts to grow ill again and the disease ends up taking her life. Matthew believes that Lavinia died of a broken heart because of what she saw between Matthew and Mary and he tells Mary at her funeral that they can not be together. Cora ends up taking a turn for the better and both Cora and Carson recover from the flu.

Sarah: Not Lavinia!! I was starting to kind of like her and I just wanted her out of the way so Matthew and Mary could be together, not dead! I thought it was a bit convenient of the writers to have Lavinia die. Matthew knows how horrible Richard is-he can't let Mary marry him-there's no way!

Melanie: I'm pretty sure everyone who wished Lavinia would just go away now feels horrendously guilty.

Sarah: I know!

Melanie: It all happened so fast, but I suppose that's the way the Spanish Influenza happened.And even though I didn't approve of how far Mary and Matthew's "talk" went, I think it was one they sorely needed to have. "We were a show that flopped" - That line was heartbreaking.

After Lavinia's funeral, the staff make it back to the house only to discover policemen there to take Mr. Bates away for the murder of Vera Bates.

Sarah: I'm not convinced Bates did it at all. I'm sticking by my original theory that O'Brien had something to do with it. Not sure why I think that, I just do.

Melanie: I think Richard had something to do with it. Perhaps Vera attempted to take Mary's story to another paper?I can't wait for next week's episode! Even though it'll mean the end of season two. Did you see that punch Matthew laid on someone? It happened so fast, I couldn't tell who it was, but I'm sure we'll find out next week!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Author Interview: Suzanne Selfors PLUS Giveaway

Photo Credit: Suzanne Selfors Website
Please welcome Suzanne Selfors to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Suzanne is a superstar author who writes for Tweens and Teens. She has SIX books coming out this year-told you she was a superstar author!

Why do you write for tweens?

It feels like a natural fit for me. I started out writing for adults. I wrote 3 novels, found an agent, but none of those novels sold, except for one which eventually found a Greek publisher. Gaced with a pile of rejection letters, I almost gave up. But then I got this idea for a children's novel and I wrote it. I called it Curse of the Merfolk and it went to auction. Little, Brown won the auction, turned it into To Catch a Mermaid, and here we are.

And now, To Catch a Mermaid is being rereleased with an awesome new cover! Books with a bit of magic seem to be popular with tween readers. Was there any special magical power or wish you wanted as a tween?

I always wanted the power to morph into another form. To be a bird for a day. Or maybe a dragon. Or to be a boy for a day. That would be amazing.

You have six books coming out this year which just amazes me. What is a typical day like for you as an author? (I'm sure you're very busy!)

I'm crazy busy, but that's a good thing because I'm one of those hyper people and I need to keep my brain occupied. I write most days, usually in three hour blocks, but there's no real schedule to my life. I have kids and domestic duties and all that stuff so each day finds its own rhythm. I do tend to write in coffeehouses. I work better with music and the hum of the espresso machine.

Coffee and books-there's nothing better!! Where do you get the ideas for your books?

My life. To Catch a Mermaid was born when I took a walk along the beach and saw these really cool tidepools and wondered, "What would be the most amazing thing you might find in a tidepool?" Fortune's Magic Farm was born when I looked out the window one day during a particulary long spell of rain, and wondered, "What would life be like if it never stopped raining?" Smells Like Dog was born when I took a walk with  my dog and, after yanking on his leash for the millionth time, wondered, "What would it be like if a dog couldn't smell?"

Do you believe in mermaids?

Yep! With all my heart.

What book character is your book crush? (current crush or one from childhood).
Ah, well I actually included my childhood crush in my book, Coffeehouse Angel. His name was David and I was madly in love with him. My best friend and I had a secret code we used when we talked about him. I never worked up the courage to talk to him. And then he moved away. So tragic.

And of course, because I have to ask. Melanie, a fellow blogger and I have been recaping the Downton Abbey episodes on our blogs. Have you watched the show?

I watched the first season but haven't yet seen any episodes of the 2nd season. I'm a Masterpiece Theatre geek. I grew up watching it with my mom. I just streamed the 4 part series, How We Live Now. And I loved Upstairs Downstairs.

And that's why authors are my kind of people!! Thanks so much Suzanne! One lucky reader will win a copy of To Catch a Mermaid!
To enter leave a comment below saying what you would wish for if you caught a mermaid.
-One entry per person
-Please leave link to blog or e-mail so you can be contacted
-Open to US addresses
-Ages 13+
-Ends Monday February 20 at midnight central time

Tween Tuesday: To Catch a Mermaid by Suzanne Selfors

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: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Release Date: Re-release-originally published in 2007

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About the Book: Poor Boom Broom-he's had a string of bad luck. After a twister swept his mother away, his father refuses to come downstairs and his sister keeps making up illnesses to make sure she can stay home from school. Halvor, the Viking descendant who lives in the Boom's garage, makes Boom eat fish every day. And now Boom has detention which means he's going to miss the kick the ball against the wall tournament at lunchtime. So when Boom has to pick out a fish from the reject fish bucket to take home for dinner since that's all he can afford, he picks out a strange colored fish. Turns out Boom didn't find a fish, but a merbaby-and with it comes the curse of the merfolk. In order to save his sister, Boom must enlist the help of his friends and even some Vikings to return the merbaby to her mother.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: To Catch a Mermaid is a perfect tween read. There is lots of humor and tweens will relate to Boom's bad luck. He often ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and for all his trying to good, he always finds himself in a sticky situation. Plus, he has these really annoying neighbors that keep trying to take everything away from Boom (including his championship title of kick the ball against the wall). And on top of that, Boom is having to grow up a little too fast-having to take care of his sister and his father since both have checked out since his mother died.

Suzanne Selfors handles all this in a masterful way. The book never gets too sad or sappy, but Boom learns that his family is important (even if they can be a bit annoying at times) and the merbaby helps Myrtle and Mr. Broom with their loss and fear of leaving the house. And as I mentioned, there is lots of humor to the book. The Brooms live on a small island that is filled with a cast of zany characters. From the Viking descendants, to the mean bullying Mumps, to the pet store owner who knows fish have feelings, this book has a lot to leave readers laughing. (And yes, I did love the mention that because Myrtle knows so many facts, she has a future as a reference librarian!)

This is a fun fantasy with lots of heart and I would give it to readers who enjoy a touch of fantastical in their books.

Book Pairings: Savvy by Ingrid Law, 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from copy of the book sent by publisher

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Storytime: Good Night

I've recently started hosting a once a month evening "Pajama Time Storytime". Our weekly storytimes are during the day and I wanted to offer something in the evening. The turnout is much smaller than our regular daytime storytimes, so this last Pajama Time Storytime I held in the children's department instead of in the storyhour room. It was much cozier and was lots of fun!

Here's what I did our first Pajama Time Storytime

Opening Song: Shake Your Sillies Out by The Wiggles

Literacy Skill: Love Books-because when you read books that you love, your children will notice and it's an easy way to share the joy of reading with your kids! Read what you love!:)

Book: Time for Bed by Mem Fox-We have this in big book format which makes it even more fun to read. I love this book because it has a nice, simple storyline perfect for bedtime reading. It's also easy to skip pages if the crowd is getting restless since each page has it's own rhyme.

Song: These are My Glasses by Laurie Berkner (I repeat this every storytime)

"These are my glasses"-(make circles with your hands around eyes)
"And here is my book"-(make hands into closed book in front of you)
"I put on my glasses"-(lift circles with your hands around eyes)
"And open up my book"-(open palms into a book)
"And I read, read, read, and I look, look, look"
"Then I take off my glasses"-(move circles with your hands down from eyes)
"And whoops, close up the book!" (close palms into book in front of you)

Book: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown-this one always gets cheers of "I have that book!"

Rhyme: Sleeping from The Big Book of Stories, Songs, and Sing-Alongs by Beth Maddigan & Stefanie Drennan-To the tune of Mulberry Bush

(I changed this rhyme because I didn't like the original cast of characters that were sleeping, so I added mommy instead of the original duck verse)

This is the way a baby sleeps, (curl up with knees at chest) a baby sleeps, a baby sleeps
This is the way a baby sleeps, in his little bed

This is the way a daddy sleeps (stretch arms out above head) a daddy sleeps, a daddy sleeps,
This is the way a daddy sleeps, in his big bed

This is the way a mommy sleeps (lay head on hands) mommy sleeps, mommy sleeps
This is the way a mommy sleeps, in her big bed

This is the way a doggy sleeps (make hands like begging paws) a doggy sleeps, a doggy sleeps
This is the way a doggy sleeps, in his doggy bed

Now show me how you go to sleep (let children choose a position) go to sleep go to sleep
Now show me how you go to sleep when it's time for bed.

White Board Story: (I used four cuttout stars and taped them to our white board for this rhyme)

Four Little Stars from The Big Book of Stories, Songs and Sing-Alongs by Beth Maddigan & Stefanie Drennan

Four little stars winking at me,
One shot off and then there were three.
Three little stars with nothing to do,
One shot off and then there were two.
Two little stars afraid of the sun,
One shot off and then there was one.
One little star thought being alone was no fun,
One shot off, now there are none.

(I did have one parent laugh that the stars were afraid of the sun, but I thought it was a cute part of the rhyme-plus it rhymed!)

Song: Yawn, Yawn, Yawn by The Wiggles (a fun song to get the kids moving and I love how it goes through an entire day from morning to night)

Book: Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy by Denise Fleming (another great bedtime book with animals-and it's another book you can skip ahead with if you have a restless crowd)

Song: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Parachute Time!-I used the paper stars from the white board story and we tossed them in the parachute to make them float in the sky. I used Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star from For the Kids for our parachute time music-great CD for parents and kids!

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Book: From Head to Toe by Eric Carle-I end all my storytimes with this book because it's a fun interactive book and I like having one book that repeats every week.

Closing Song: Skinamarink 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

I'm sure many of you have seen this short film, but it's such a wonderful treat for booklovers, I had to share!!

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

Picture Book Saturday

Concept books are always asked for in the children's department. Where are the numbers, colors, and ABC books? Here are a couple of my favorite new alphabet books.

Al Pha's Bet by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Delphine Durand

The King has just announced that he needs someone to put 26 letters that have recently been invented into order. Al Pha decides that he's the perfect man for the job and takes on the King's bet. Throughout a series of silly events, Al Pha discovers the perfect order for the letters. Al Pha's Bet has plenty of laughs and readers who are learning their alphabet will get a kick out of the way Al Pha figures out where each letter should go. The book has bright, cartoonish illustrations which add to the fun. Great for preschool and up, although maybe a bit long for storytime.

What happens when the most used letter of the alphabet, letter E, falls down the stairs and is hurt? Now she can't go to work and the other letters are going to have to help out! No one can use the letter E anymore until she heals, which leads to a crazy new way of spelling! E-Mergency has a comic book style format, which I  think will appeal to young school age readers. There are lots of jokes and puns as the letters have to figure out how to spell creatively now that E is out of commission. There's humor for the kids and parents and it's a great book to share with your child and pour over each page. It's a very funny and creative take on an alphabet book and it was one of my favorite pictures books of 2011.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Adult Lit: The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 1/17/2012

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About the Book: When Evelyn Morgan walked into the small village bookstore, she didn't know she was about to meet the love of her life. Brendan Thorne and Evelyn spend the week they have together and Brendan shares the story The Green Knight, a legend about star-crossed lovers. Are Evelyn and Brendan to have the same fate as those in the story? And is the story more than legend?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: This book has a very unique packaging which is what sold me on the book in the first place. The book has an accordion style to it, which allows you to read one side of the story, then turn it over and read the other. You can choose which one to start with (I started with Evelyn) and you find yourself reading an almost circular story. The format is pretty cool, although I will say it was a bit hard to hold because of the binding and accordion style. Also, at one point I dropped the book and it fluttered down with all the pages flopping out and I had to stack them back up-the hazards of having an accordion book format I guess!

As for the story, it was just OK. I liked it, but it's very short and I wanted more. A lot if left up to the readers to put together and I found myself wanting just a bit more detail and depth to the story. The characters are both interested, even obsessed, with the tale of The Green Knight and it's this story that brings them together and also has echoes of their own love story. In many ways, the book is a modern  retelling of a legend and although nothing is ever really told to the readers, there are many hints to put things together that this is true.

It's an interesting concept and the story kept me reading. I think readers who enjoy fables and legends would like this one-I would suggest it for older teens and adults since for much of the story Brendan and Evelyn are older adults teaching college and it's more adult lit than YA. I'm not sure if libraries would be able to carry it because of the format, but it would make a great book for the friend who claims they can't find anything to read!

Book Pairings: Hood by Stephen Lawhead, Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Anne Sandell

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by the publisher

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Handselling Books

I know everyone says that you can't judge a book by it's cover-but tell that to teens in the library! I see it everyday-teens will pass up a great book just because the cover doesn't appeal to them. (And it's not just teens-I'm guilty of the same thing-I'll admit it!)
There are some books that I love so much and I want to share with the teens, yet no matter how many times I display it or booktalk it to classrooms, the book doesn't move. So what's a librarian to do? That's when I handsell the books.

One of my favorite books to suggest to teens is Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. It's a great action-adventure story with a bit of romance. There are airships, strange creatures, pirates and it's a bit steampunk. It has a male and female main character and I think it has appeal to guys and girls of all ages. It's also the first in a series which my teens are always looking for. It has everything you would think they would want it a book, yet it sits on my library shelf because of this cover:

Now, I don't think that's a terrible cover, but for some reason the teens find it boring and never want to pick it up.

So when a teen asks for suggestions about a book to read, I always suggest Airborn. I tell the teen about the book (It's like Treasure Island meets Around the World in 80 Days with a bit of Pirates of the Carribbean and airships!)  I gush about how it's all about adventure and there are strange creatures that an old man claims that he saw but now else believes him except his granddaughter who claims to have proof and won't cabinboy Matt help her out? I tell them about how I want to know what they think of it and they should read it and come back and tell me about it-and if they hate it-that's OK too-I just what to know what they think.

After I've talked about the book, the teens are more likely to give it a chance. Most of them take it and give it a try. Some do come back and tell me about it (and guess what? They loved it and want the next book!)

I love booktalking books and when I get a chance to handsell some of my favorites to teens it makes my job even more fun!

There are several other books that I have to handsell to the teens before they pick them up:

 The Cardturner by Louis Sachar "Did you read Holes? This one has that same feel and is by the same author-I know bridge sounds boring, but he gives you permission to skip the boring parts!)

Sleepless by Terri Clark "trust me-it's full of mystery and suspense"

What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones-"what would happen if you fell for a quiet not popular kind of outcast boy?"

I know I'm not alone in this-what books do you have to handsell to your teens?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Downton Abbey Recaps-Episode 5

Welcome to Melanie and Sarah's Downton Abbey Recaps! There were some major shockers in episode 5 and we can't wait to hear what everyone thinks of them!! And yes, there are major spoilers below!!

(They just need to be together!!)

The episode starts off and Matthew is back at Downton. He's being pretty mopey, which is understandable-he's just been told he can't walk and won't be able to have children. Mary is taking care of him and he encourages her to marry Sir Richard as he would wish no one would throw their life away on him.

Richard notices Mary as caregiver and suggests to Cora that Lavinia needs to be back in Matthew's life. He proposes that he and Mary visit a nearby house and look into purchasing it as their home once they are married. Richard also has plans to take Carson on to run their new home. Carson agrees to go with Mary which is a hard decision for him as he loves Downton. When Richard returns later with Lavinia, everyone is surprised to see her. Lavinia says she is determined to stay by Matthew's side and she won't give up on him and it was wrong of him to try and scare her away. Richard threatens Mary that she dare not break of her engagement to him and that he now has a way to ruin her if she tried. 

Melanie: I was proud of Lavinia for coming back to Downton.  She appears to be pretty sure of herself... This time.

Sarah: I was glad to see Lavinia come back and fight for her man. I think she's really sweet, but I really want Matthew and Mary together. Every seen with them is so heartbreaking and it's obvious how much they care for each other!!

 (Boo Richard!!)

Sarah: I am not a fan of Richard-he's mean, conniving, and manipulative. I hate that Mary had to have his help to keep Mrs. Bates from selling her story. Now he can ruin Mary if he wishes. He knows there's something between Matthew and Mary and I think his jealousy is going to end up being very dangerous.I don't trust him  I think he's going to be very controlling of Mary and it's going to be a hard relationship to escape. I hope Carson keeps an eye out for Mary and can help her out of this situation!

Melanie:  Even though I completely agree with your assessment of Richard, I can't blame him for being jealous.  Mary is hovering over Matthew constantly, even telling Matthew that she doesn't have to marry Richard.  If I were Richard, I'd be jealous too!

 (Sorry "Patrick", we don't believe your story)

A stranger has arrived at Downton,claiming to have ties to the house.  The soldier has the name of Gordon, but the family doesn't know of any relation. The soldier is badly burned and no one recognizes him. He tells Edith that he is indeed their cousin Patrick, who everyone had thought died in the Titanic. He claims he was rescued but suffering from amnesia and sent to Canada. He enlisted as a soldier and only recently recovered the memory of who he really is because of his accident. Edith believes him right away, as she was in love with Patrick years ago. The rest of the family is unsure about his claims, especially Mary, arguing that he could easily make up stories that sound real. Patrick had a friend that they suspect may have taken on Patrick's identity and the family is unsure of what to believe since if the story is true, it will uproot Matthew as heir.

Melanie:  Talk about a shocker!  What really got me was Edith's reaction.  She so desperately wants it to be true.  She must have really loved Patrick.  When Mary automatically rejected the idea without even talking to the poor guy, I felt sorry for him, even though I ultimately didn't believe his story.   After all, she was the one who was engaged to him.

Sarah: This was the part of the episode where my jaw dropped! I had guessed from the preview that the stranger would be some relative, but I never thought it would Patrick! I think I side with Mary on this one though. Poor Edith wants so badly to believe that her old love is back that she would see anything to make it real. I also felt he was fishing a bit for details by asking her the name of their old governess and he memories always seemed very vague. Couldn't he think of something that only the real Patrick would know instead of all the vague stories? And since he is so badly injured that no one can recognize him, it would be easy to pretend. 
 (Poor Ethel)

Mrs. Hughes has been helping Ethel, the former maid, and Carson finds out. He informs Cora and the two discuss a way to get Major Bryant back to Downton for a visit to try and confront him one last time about Ethel and her baby. They receive word that Major Bryant died in the war. Ethel does not take the news well. She was holding out hope that things would work out. She also thinks that it's not fair that Mrs. Hughes hired a new maid, Jane, who has a child and is a war widow, yet Ethel's situation has ruined her.

Melanie: I can understand Ethel's frustration, yet her entitlement attitude kind of ticks me off. I do hope she and the baby find a happy ending, though. She's so young.

Sarah: I hope she gets a good ending, but I think something bad is going to happen with Ethel. I think she's struggling to keep things together and the last scene we saw of her with her crying over her baby, I'm afraid she's going to do something to hurt herself. I'm also still curious about Jane. I don't know why, but I feel like she has some secrets.

Melanie: I don't like Jane, even though I've really been given no reason not to. She just seems a bit too perfect. And as we all know, no one at Downton is flawless.

Sarah: Exactly. I feel like I can't trust anyone and right now she seems too good. I really have nothing to go on either, but I just think there's something up with her.

 (The war is over!)

One night, when the staff is having dinner, Lord Grantham suddenly rushes into the kitchen. Watching everyone jump up, trying to maintain decorum at his unexpected entrance was funny. He quickly apologizes for the interruption, than declares that the war is finally over. Celebrations ensue.

 (Oh Violet, sneaky as ever!)

As the war is ended, Cora and Violet are looking forward to Downton going back to the way it was before the war. Isobel is unsure and wants to keep the house open to the soldiers. Violet decides that she will find a new cause for Isobel and talks to her about the war refugees who need her help. Isobel decides to leave Downton and take on a new cause, much to Cora and Violet's relief.

Melanie: The entire reason Isobel left in the first place is because Cora and she were fighting over who was in charge of Downton. When she mentions keeping the house open, she even says that she would take care of everything. I can't blame Cora for wanting to put a stop to that ASAP.

Sarah: The scene with the three of them where Isobel tells them of her new plan is hilarious! I love any scene with Violet, but this was Violet at the top of her game, knowing just how to get what she wants. I understand that they want to have their house back, but at the same time, I felt like Cora and Violet were being a bit selfish.

Melanie: Watching Violet work her magic was as epic as ever. I wonder what will happen to Edith when she can no longer spend her time taking care of the soldiers. Seems like she'll be displaced once again, poor girl.

Sarah: Agreed, poor Edith. That girl always seems so lost and she really found a place first helping out at the farm and then at Downton only to have both of those be taken away. I wonder what will happen to her now.

 (Will they finally get together?)

Sybil is once again off talking to Branson. She asks him if he'll wait for a decision from her. He says he'll wait forever. She says she doesn't need quite that long.

Melanie: I can't wait for next week's episode! Looks like we'll once again be getting some movement in the Branson/Sybil storyline.

Sarah: I know! It's about time-I really want to see something happen with these two.

 (Will Matthew walk again?)

Matthew thinks he may have felt something in his legs, but only mentions something to Bates and even that he doesn't say much. He keeps it to himself, but there's hope in his face that things may be changing.

Sarah: I think this is a good sign and one of the big cliffhangers that the episode ends on-I can't wait for next week!

Melanie: I can't believe Matthew didn't tell Bates about the feeling in his legs, although I suppose I understand why.  It would have sent the house into an uproar.  I hope, hope, hope, he regains movement.
 (Well, that's one way to get rid of her!)

Bates receives word that the lawyer would not grant a divorce because Mrs. Bates told him that Bates had paid to end the marriage. He tries to go to London to reason with Mrs. Bates, only to return and tell Anna that the meeting was worse than he had imagined. Later, Bates receives a telegram that Vera has been found dead.

Melanie:  My first reaction was that Bates was the killer, but I think that would be too easy of a solution.  It's somebody else.   It could be someone not even in the show; I'm sure Vera had many enemies.

Sarah: I think Vera Bates was murdered, but there are many suspects as to who. At first, I thought O'Brien, because she's been showing that she feels guilty for her actions lately and she did encourage Mrs. Bates to sell her story. Then I thought maybe it was Bates himself trying to do what he could to be with Anna. Then a co-workers suggested that maybe it was Richard-he did show up late to dinner and Vera could have been going back on her word not to sell the story and he wants to hold it over Mary's head to control her. Or was it Anna-so desperately wanting to be with Bates? So many possibilities-I want to know more!!! I also don't think this is going to make it easier for Anna and Bates, I think it's going to be even harder!

Melanie: I'm starting to doubt if Anna and Bates will ever be together.  How long can Anna's patience last, after all.  She still has unerring faith in him so far, though, so maybe there's hope.

Sarah: So many cliffhangers to keep us in suspense! What do you think will happen next? Are you as hooked as we are?
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