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Welcome to the book blog, featuring reviews for teens from InfoSoup librarians and users!

Reviews by : Waupaca Area Public Library

Make Your Own Music

Author: Eric Gansworth

Love this cover! .... school, bullying, family, friendship, dating, and one of the best parts..... links to classic rock music from the late 1970s!  Queen, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Wings....  Smart 7th grader, Lewis Blake, is a Native American attending a public school that is filled with unrest.  HIs friend, George, has a mutual interest in music and the forge through middle school with all its bumps and growing pains.  This book kept me riveted through to the dramatic end.

Author: Holly Sloan

This book reminded me of Out of My Mind and Wonder (both books I loved by the way) being that it is about a 12-year old girl who is a genius, but feels detached from her peers.  Suffering the loss of her parents in a tragic accident sets this story on a hopeful mission to find Willow Chance a new family.  But what does it take to be a family?  Readers will have a lot to talk about after reading this book.  What is strange?  Are we all strange or at varying levels of strangeness?  Is it fair to group like strangers?  Hmmm.

Title: Asylum
Author: Madeleine Roux

16-year-old Dan Crawford spends his summer at New Hampshire College Prep. The dormitory he is assigned to is none other than the infamous—converted and newly renovated--Brookline Sanitarium. Soon after his arrival at the college, Dan makes friends with Abby and Jordan, who soon find themselves exploring the abandoned, eerie hidden recesses of the Brookline. Soon after their first midnight escapade, the trio begins experiencing the supernatural. Dan receives mysterious notes and visions, Abby’s mood takes a turn for the disgruntled, and Jordan begins losing sleep over frightening nightmares. The events that unfold beg the question, did these teens choose Brookline, or did Brookline choose them?

Asylum is a great book for those that read and enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Roux employs some really creepy found-photographs to help the reader feel a part of the story. It is a bit of a scary read, but not too scary so fans of the thriller genre may like this one as well as the horror fans and adrenaline junkies.

My Reaction: I liked this book. Ever since Rigg’s book (referenced above), I have taken an interest in books that use “found photography.” I think it is a really neat way to get a better picture of what the characters are experiencing. I also enjoyed that this book was creepy without ever crossing the line which makes it appropriate for a range of audiences. On the negative side, I thought the characters were a little bit flat and could have been better developed and there were some loose ends (i.e. strange “coincidences”) that never get fully explained. Maybe you can chalk this up to it being the first in a series, but I doubt it. The overall plot was well-done and the setting was fabulous. I might re-read this one just in case I missed something. Grades 7 and up.

Themes: Ghosts, Haunted, Insane Asylum, Sanitarium, Summer School, Prep School, Mystery, History, Friends 

Author: John Green

Colin Singleton is a prodigy, not a genius…a prodigy. This is a fact that has gotten him down and to make matters worse, his girlfriend Katherine just dumped him. The thing about Colin is, he only dates girls named Katherine (“K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E”, not to be confused with “C-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E”)…and the most recent dumper has earned the moniker “K-19” –being the nineteenth Katherine to break Colin’s heart.

After graduation, Colin and his best friend Hassan, go on a road trip to get Colin’s mind off of Katherine XIX and along the way, they stop in Tennessee to visit the alleged resting place of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Enter Lindsey Lee Wells—paramedic-in-training and tour guide to the tomb of the Archduke. Colin, Hassan and Lindsey hit it off right away and the boys soon find themselves employed by Lindsey’s mother, Hollis, to interview the residents of Gutshot, Tennessee for an oral history of the town.

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Author: Ransom Riggs

Jacob Portman, 16, spent his childhood looking at strange old photos and listening to the stories of very peculiar children as told by his grandfather, Abe Portman. Abe tells of his escape from the Nazis (and other evils) to Wales, where he was taken in by Miss Peregrine—a bird-like woman—in her orphanage. His stories seemed like sheer works of fiction—tales of an invisible boy, a girl that can create fire in her hand, another girl who was so weightless she had to wear cement show in order to stay grounded, and other amazing entities that you’d only see in a “freak show.” After Abe’s mysterious death, Jacob sets out to find the truth about the orphanage, the bird-like woman, and the peculiar children, leading him to an epic battle and the task of making the most important decision of his life.

This story will keep you on the edge of your seat as you journey with Jacob to find truth, meaning, and a place to belong. Riggs includes many photos throughout this book to help facilitate the imagery. These photos help to add an eerie component to the book, giving it a spooky feel.

I recommend this book to anyone that loves old photos, adventures, and oddities. This book is appropriate for anyone in grade 6 and up.

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Author: Francisco Stork

Pancho has vowed to seek revenge on the man who killed his sister, Rosa. Since he cannot legal live alone, being only 17, he finds himself at St. Anthony’s orphanage in New Mexico. There, he meets D.Q., a young man suffering from cancer who is now wheelchair bound. D.Q. shares with Pancho some of his writing, called the Death Warriors’ Manifesto. These writings are about how a true “death warrior” recognizes that life is short and lives his/her life for the better.

Pancho proves himself a true friend by standing with D.Q. while he attempts to emancipate himself from his estranged mother. His mother comes out of the woodwork when she finds out about his condition and attempts to control his medical care. At first, Pancho’s support is only due to the possibility of getting closer to his sister’s killer, in Albuquerque, but as time goes on, the boys meet Marisol and though interactions with her, their lives change.

Grade 10-12; The main characters in this book are older teenagers and so, I think this book would be most suitable for that age group (16-18). Generally, I have found that readers are most engaged when the main character is around the same age as they are. Also, the philosophical depth in this book might be difficult for some younger readers. Finally, the parallels between this book and Cervante’sDon Quixote might be missed altogether by younger readers.

My reaction: This novel was very deep. It is very much a modern spin on Don Quixote, one of my favorite pieces of classic literature. I felt as though I could relate in a lot of ways to the main characters though, it did take me about 100 or more pages to warm up to Pancho’s character. This book would be good for reluctant teen readers or a young men’s book club—if you can get teenage boys to participate in a book club.

Author: Robert Anthony Salvatore

An amazingly good book by Salvatore, the book begins at Ex-Gal 4 , an extra-galactic research facility on Belkadan, where a man named Yomin Carr is working. The scientists see an asteroid breach the galactic edge. This asteroid is the first of a series of breaches. Soon, Yomin Carr is found to be a Yuuzhan Vong, a species of alien from a different galaxy that use organic technology, and they're bent on conquest. Then the scene shifts to Rhammammol, where another Vong, Nom Anor, who has lived in that galaxy for a quarter century. Luke Skywalker, Mara Jade Skywalker, and Leia Organa Solo come to see him and shut his criminal activities down. At the same time, Mara is infected with a Vong disease. Soon, Han Solo is told by Lando to make a shipment to Sernpidal, whose natives worship the moon. The Vong plant a dovin basal, a gravity-manipulating creature, on Sernpidal's surface to pull down the moon. When Han tries to save the natives, Chewbacca stays behind just as the moon hits and he dies. This drives a wedge between Han and his son Anakin, who is blamed for the death. Meanwhile, the New Republic hatches a plan to fight off the Vong by researching Belkadan. It has been poisoned by Carr, who has exposed himself as a Yuuzhan Vong. The Vong plant a yammosk on an ice planet in order to control their starships. What happens next is only the stuff of legend.

Title: Scarlet
Author: Marissa Meyer

This fast paced and well thought out sequel to Cinder was a fun read.  It has all the fighting any guy would want to read and just enough romance to satisfy those who want a love story.  You might never really know if the wolves are good or bad.  Meeting Marissa Meyer at last year's Book Festival in Waupaca added to my interest in this series. Already looking forward to the next installment of the series!