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

Reviews by : Waupaca Area Public Library

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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.

The ill-fated romance of Nicholas and Alexandra is one rarely found in history books between Emperors and Empresses, Kings and Queens, and/or the ruling elite. The two were truly in love, rather than marrying simply for political reasons or convenience. Grand Duchess after Grand Duchess, Nicholas and Alix tried to produce an heir. First Olga, then Maria, Tatiana, and Anastasia; finally, in 1904, Alexei Nicholaeovich was born, solidifying the Romanov line would continue…but all was not well. Alexei was afflicted with hemophilia. Enter Rasputin…healing monk? Or charlatan?

The story continues with photographs from the childrens’ Kodak Brownie cameras, professional portraits, personal letters, and other documents telling the tale of the Romanovs’ imminent demise and the political unrest leading up to it. Intermittent sections from the perspective of workers, peasants, and others add context and depth to the content.

My Reaction: The Romanovs have long been a fascination of mine; having studied various aspects of Russian History at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh under the tutelage of Karl Loewenstein, the professor that ignited my passion for Russia and it’s beautiful, yet bloody history. I was overjoyed to see that Candace Fleming, a highly capable non-fiction author for children and teens, made the tragic story of this family accessible to students. Fleming artfully weaves primary source documents into the story in such a way that one forgets they are reading a nonfiction text. The writing style and complexity of this book make it acceptable for teens in grades 9 through 12.

Themes: Biographies, Autobiographies and Memoirs, Imperial Russia, juvenile literary nonfiction, narrative history, narrative nonfiction, non-fiction, revolution, Romanovs, Royal History, Russia, Russian Revolution, Soviet Union, teen, teen nonfiction, tsar, YA, Young Adult

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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.

 

My Reaction

I enjoyed this fictionalized telling of the Warsaw Uprising. I thought the illustrations were chaotic, but still beautiful. The use of blue and white pencil drawings gave the story a very sobering feel. My heart ached for Misha and his family. This is a great story to help give context to any WWII history lesson involving Poland, the Holocaust, and Jewish Internment.

Themes: Holocaust, Poland, Jewish, Warsaw, Occupation, 1939-1945, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Warsaw Uprising, Warsaw Ghetto

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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.

Lies?!

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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.

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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~!

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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.

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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!

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Author: Hillary Jordan

Welcome to a not-so-distant future where felons, rather than wasting federal resources in prisons, are instead "melachromed:" a process where their very skin is dyed to represent the crime that they committed. These "Chromes" are patronized by society and treated brutally, often banned or segregated in many areas of cities. 

The story's protagonist is the young woman Hannah Payne, a skilled Texas dressmaker who lives with her parents and sister in a fundamentalist Christian town. She has committed the worst crime of all- murder. For she has had an illegal abortion, the product of an affair with a man whose identity she is determined to keep secret. Hannah's skin is dyed scarlet to forever remind herself and warn others of her crime, and she is imprisoned in a Chrome ward where the struggles of millions of Chromes are televised to the nation. When she is released, she finds that nothing will be the same.

Hannah must face danger, steel herself, and question everything she believed in to survive as a Chrome in the world she once loved. "When She Woke" is a brilliant new take on the classic "The Scarlet Letter," in addition to a thorough examination of religion, ethics, government, and what relation they should share.