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

Reviews by : Waupaca Area Public Library

Title: Noggin
Author: John Corey Whaley

Sixteen-year old Travis Coates decided that he did not want to suffer through his losing battle with cancer. He, instead, accepts an offer to cryogenically freeze his head—the only part of him not riddled with cancer. When the time was right (you know how science can be) and a donor body had been found, Travis would be brought back. What Travis did not realize was that his time would come  to be brought back a mere five years later. After waking from his head transplant, Travis soon finds that life moved on without him; his parents got rid of all his stuff, his girlfriend is now engaged, and his best friend is in college…and living a lie. Travis must return to the school he left behind and relive his sixteenth year, only with a healthy body. He makes some new friends, rekindles his old friendships and tries to win back the affections of the love of his young life—all with a little comedic flare and a few touching moments.

My Reaction:

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I think the idea behind the plot is really unique—Hello!? Head transplant!—but, far-fetched. The characters were developed well and story as a whole had nice flow. It is told by Travis after he wakes and shifts between his recent experiences and memories of before the procedure. It think structuring the story this way helped to add some authenticity to such an “out-there-in-left-field” story. With that said, there were some inconsistencies that really made it difficult for me to love this book (which is rare, because I generally love just about everything I read, as you may have noted from my GoodReads ratings).

First, a number of characters make some mention of Travis’ time as a severed head, cryogenically frozen…and there are a number of times when he/someone mentions not having been dead during that time, or not having been ‘brought back from the dead’ because he wasn’t dead in the first place. WHAT!? If your head was severed…you were dead. Period. End of story.

Second, I get that Travis is sixteen—even after he was brought back—because he never lived through his sixteenth year and he was frozen at that age, but why was he sent back to high school?  That was really what his parents thought would be best for him? There wasn’t a GED program or online high school that he could have attended? His birthdate obviously proves—which he does use at one point to get into a karaoke bar—that he is technically (physically?) not sixteen, so strongly suspect that no school would accept him back at 21 years old.

Besides those few plot issues, I thought the story was fun, engaging, and I did enjoy reading it for the sake of staying current in my collection. Recommended for grades 9-12.

Themes: cancer, coming of age, contemporary, cryogenics, death, drama, fantasy, sci fi fiction, first love, friendship, grief, humor, Kansas City, leukemia, LGBTQ, mad scientist, male protagonist, organ transplants, relationships, science fiction, teen, YA, young adult

Author: Candace Fleming

Nicholas II, last Tsar of Russia, his family, their servants and their physician were imprisoned at the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg (or, Yekaterinburg) during the upheaval of the Russian Revolution and brutally murdered in a cellar in the wee hours of the morning on July 17, 1918.

For three hundred years, the Romanov Dynasty reigned over Russia, yet Nicholas never wanted to be Tsar. He was shy and less commanding than his father, Alexander III. Because of his great love for Russia, he took his place as Tsar after his father’s death, with Alexandra at his side.

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Author: Aline Sax

This is a sobering story of WWII Warsaw. Misha’s family has been relocated to the ghetto where Jews die daily from starvation and disease. He goes to extreme lengths to help provide for his family, even resorting to crawling through the sewers to get to the outside world to retrieve food. Eventually, the ghetto is emptied out as many Jews are relocated to concentration camps. Fear and anger are prominent emotions for Misha—and despite struggling to survive--he takes a stand in the Warsaw Uprising. Told through text and blue-and-white illustrations, this hybrid novel is a gut-wrenching, poignant tale of survival amidst oppression.

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Author: Ester Earl

I wanted to read this book because I have a love for writing and saw that it was a book of stories and letters written by someone who shared that love for writing. The first thing I loved about this book was that it went ahead and answered all my questions from the start. It explained when Ester was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer, how she was treated, and her whole story until the end. I found her letters funny, and felt she would have been a very great friend to have if she had lived longer. However, her diary entries quickly became dark, and she mentioned how she wished she didn't feel so dark and hateful, but it's just how she was feeling. After reading this book I looked back and noted all the things we had in common. She was a very relatable person that loved to have fun and wished no harm onto anyone. It was sad though, reading this and knowing the out come. Even after the inevitable was noted, there was more to tell. Somehow she lived on, even months after she had passed, and reminded her family of what she had been like before her sickness. One thing I loved about this book is the fact that is was completly true, and that she never let the cancer define her. It was just something she had, it wasn't her. I think it's a great inspirational work, and that anyone feeling down on themselves should read it to remind themselves that whatever they are going through, they can get through it.


Title: Lies
Author: Michael Grant

Lies is the third instalment to Michael Grant's Gone series. I was happy to find that the Fayz was the same old same old, but that was untill I got a few chapters in. As it turned out, everything completly changed, even some of the character's personalities. I loved the explination that Michael Grant gave for their changing personalities and emotions and values, mostly because it made so much sence. Again this book was completly stuffed with twists and turns and a plot thick enough for a dictionary, but somehow it seemed slow. Even with all the twists (and well LIES) the book seemed to snail along. I found myself at the edge of my chair nearly every chapter, but the in between scenes were slow, to be blunt. I still found it an amazing read, and would recomend anyone who likes teen powers, mystery, and sifi to read this book series. I can't wait to read the next book in the Gone series, Plague.

Author: Arikawa Hiro

My friend had been bothering me to read this manga for the longest time. I didn't really want to read it because the way she described it to me made it sound boreing, not my kind of book. But one day when I was board I grabbed it off the shelf and didn't put it down till I was finished. I sat in the library and read it right there, didn't even get to check it out. I continued on to read the second and third book in that sitting, but had to check out the rest for lack of time. Honestly one of my top five manga's I've read in my life! So much action, tons of laughs, and drama to tie it all together. The perfect amount of romance puts the bow on this manga series. I would recomend this to anyone and everyone, with a well thought out background and wonderful character development, there is a twist right around every turn. I am in love with this manga, cannot wait for the next chapter~!

Author: Steve Sheinkin

What?!  A plot to steal a presidential corpse and hold it for ransom to free an imprisoned counterfeiter?  Yep.  Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.  But were they successful? I love Steve Sheinkin's books because they are nonfiction that read like fiction.  This one will not disappoint.

Title: Gone
Author: michael grant

The book titled Gone is centered around Sam, a nobody surfer dude. He is sometimes called School Bus Sam because of his hiroic deed he had done when he was 13. The bus driver had a heart attack while driving on a bridge and Sam jumped up and guided the bus to a safe stop on the shoulder of the road. One day he was in Math class when suddenly his math teacher was just gone. It took him a couple minutes to notice the lack of his monotoned voice, but when he did notice the rest of the class was whispering. Sam asked where the teacher went and other kids said he was just gone. There was no poof, no disapearing, he was just there one minute and gone the next. In the next few pages you are informed that all the adults in this large beach town were also gone. It seemed everyone over the age of 14 was gone. The rest of the book was gripping, and each chapter was told by a different person's point of view, which was very interesting. The writing style was fantastic, and I couldn't put this book down for the life of me. I was so glad to see that the second book was at the library when I had finished with this novel, I don't think I could have handled waiting for a week or more to get it. I would highly recomend this book and this series to anyone who loves misteries, conflict, fighting, and a constant struggle for power and survival. Great book!