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

Fiction

Author: James Patterson

Jumping into this book was easy.  It was off and running in the first chapter.  I was captured and found it difficult to put down.  There are still many unanswered questions, but I look forward to finding the answers in the rest of the series.

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Author: Jennifer Nielsen

Jaron may be the new king of Carhya, but his future is not secured.  Outlying kingdoms are joining to cause harm.  This book pushes his strength as a ruler, his compassion as a man, and risks the devastation of his heart.  

I love how Ms. Nielsen gives us options that don't exist.  Even though we are reading the story from Jaron's perspective, his strategies are held by him alone.  Every twist and every turn has you looking for a way out and for a peaceful ending to an unjust war.

Make Your Own Music

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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.

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Author: Susann Cokal

In the fictional Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn the royal court is trying to produce a male heir to keep the family line in power. This proves difficult when mysterious illnesses and other traumatic events keep killing members of the family. Like every royal court there are circles upon circles of people close and not so close and all of them have motives of one kind or another that impact the royal family in one way or another. Innocents are caught up in this constant grab for power and are subject to fates mysterious and dark. This book was awarded a Printz Honor award and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. This book has a beautiful quality to it and a very well paced sense of time and place, but it is definitely for mature readers. Publishers Weekly's review ended with this sentence "Though the novel’s frank and upsetting depictions of rape, child-marriage, miscarriage, and syphilis mark this title for mature readers, its brutality, eloquence, and scope are a breathtaking combination. Ages 16–up".

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Author: Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor comes from a home that is pretty much terrorized by her mother's second husband. When the story opens she has just returned "home" after being shipped out to one of her mother's "friends" for over a year. She shares a room with three others and guards her space and her belongings closely on the top bunk she occupies. She gets no relief on the bus or at school. Park comes from a loving home but he stands out for various reasons and while he is not subjected to the bullying Eleanor is he lives just under the radar. Park reluctantly offers Eleanor the space next to him on the bus one day and so begins an evolving friendship that eventually turns to love. The portrayal of the home life of these two characters is very real and in Eleanor's case very stark. The day to day obstacles that young people face are well drawn in this story. It has a hopeful ending too.

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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.

Picture Me Gone

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Author: Meg Rosoff

Mila notices and senses things other people seem to miss.  A trip with her father to visit his college friend Matthew is disrupted when Matthew disappears days before their arrival.  Mila and her father make the trip from London to upstate New York anyway, hoping to discover the answers behind Matthew’s disappearance.  Through the home, wife, infant son and dog Matthew has left behind, Mila slowly gains an understanding of him and his life.  Can Mila and her father find Matthew?  Why did he disappear?  Mila’s faith in those closest to her will be tested as she struggles to unravel the mystery.

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Title: Sold
Author: Patricia McCormick

This story is sad.  There is not way around that fact.  The main character is Lakshmi, a 13 year old girl, who is sold by her family into prostitution.  I could almost feel the dirt and grime in Lakshmi's living quarters and the abuse made me want to cry.  I had to remind myself that although this was a book of fiction, these types of places do exist.  Heartbreaking.  The author based this story on interviews she had done with girls who were in the slave industry as well as aid workers who try to help them.  What Patricia McCormick created from these interviews is a story of resilience and hope.  Just when you think Lakshmi's life can't get worse, it does, but she doesn't give up hope.  

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Author: Stephanie Kuehn

This heart breaker of a book is riveting. I read it in two days! I just could not put it down.

For the protagonist 'Drew/Win', growing into adulthood is ripping him apart both physically and mentally. The author slowly gives you all of these clues about why. At first I thought I might be reading a fantasy. I mean, exactly why is this poor kid vomiting all the time? Well, you find out it is with good reason.

The teen years are confusing enough without the baggage that this character is carrying. I loved how the characters of Lex & Jordan rallied and came to his aid. I also liked how the terms of atomic science were interwoven into this book.

This line was pure poetry and repeated twice in the book: "I don't feel the presence of God here".

Congrats on this debut!

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Author: Trish Doller

Callie was kidnapped by her mom as a young child and lived a difficult life travelling around the country like a nomad. Now, at 17 years old, she has been found and returned to her father while her mother has been arrested for kidnapping her. The story is about her attempts to fit in with a new family and friends and adjust to a new town and way of life. She also has to struggle with her feelings towards her mom. As she learns that so much of what her mom told her was a lie and really begins to look at her mom's actions and behavior, she is both angry with her mom, but still loves her.

I really enjoyed this book. My heart really went out to Callie as she tried to adjust to her new world and do her best not to hurt anyone's feelings. I thought Trish Doller did a great job of setting up her life before she was returned to her father and gave a realistic picture of a teen going through such a dramatic life change.