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

friendship

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Author: Jerry Spinelli

I listened to this book on Playaway, fun, fun.

The title comes from a change to the Robert Frost line "Miles to go before I sleep", being "Smiles to go before I weep".

Jerry Spinelli never fails to tell a good story. Will Tuppence is the protagonist in this book. He has two close friends, Mi-Su and B.T. but things get awkward when both B.T. and Will are interested in having Mi-Su as a girlfriend. The other tension in the book is Will's little sister Tabby who is so darn annoying to him. Will is interested in the cosmos and atoms and science. He also likes chess. Ultimately,he is a typical teenager trying to figure it all out. This is a good "slice of life" book.

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Author: Laura Schaefer

  This book was wonderful. I mean if you like tea and friendship, because that's pretty much what this book is all about. You have Annie, who's only thirteen, but has decided to finally ask for a job at her grandmother's teashop, The Steeping Leaf, a place that she has always loved. The only thing is that The Steeping Leaf has a steeping pile of bills to pay and no money in which to pay them with. Annie takes it upon herself to keep The Steeping Leaf open along with her two friends, Genna and Zoe, they come up with some great plans, but in the end can the Teashop Girls keep the shop from closing? Read the book to find out. 

  One of my most favorite things about this book is that it has history and facts mixed into it, as well as beauty tips and yummy sounding recipes, almost all of which are relating to tea. I also love that the book focuses not only on tea, but also on how important friendship can be. Annie and her two bestfriends really make you want to just drop what you're doing at 4'o'clock in the afternoon and have teatime with a couple of cucumber sandwiches and some tasty tea. Another thing that really made me happy is that Laura Schaefer is a Wisconsin author, which I didn't even know when I picked up the book at the library. She lives right in Madison and loves English Breakfast tea just like her character Annie.. All in all, I gave this book 5/5 stars, because, in my opinion, it was perfectly balanced; just the right amount of fun and seriousness.

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Author: C.C. Payne

This book, about fifth grader Lulu Bell Bonner, is a great book. Lulu Bell wants to fit in with the mean popular girls and keeps ignoring her real friend, Alan. She tries hiding her brains and musical talent. When her Grandma Bernice dies, Lulu Bell realizes something important about friendship and "letting your light shine". This book would get four out of five stars.

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: 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: Sarah Dessen

I loved this book. Dessen serves us another great story with rich character building. The main character is Auden and she is spending a summer with her dad, her young step mom and their newborn girl. (Auden's stepsister.) She becomes friends with a bicyclist named Eli and they start spending nights together talking and drinking coffee and adventuring. Soon we find out that Eli is getting over a loss in his life. Auden becomes frightened of her intimacy with Eli and breaks off their time together. She uses some of her excess energy to learn how to bike herself. (Biking becomes a metaphor for freedom and the relationship of Auden & Eli among other things.) Auden learns that her mother and her father and her stepmother and even Eli's mother are all adults fighting with their emotions and changes just as she is. As she heads to college we are happy and hopeful for her. (This was one I listened to, great for driving!).

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She was a good girl from a good family, with everything she could want or need. But below the surface, she felt like she could never be good enough. Like she could never live up to the expectations that surrounded her. Like she couldn’t do anything to make a change.But there was one thing she could control completely: how much she ate. The less she ate, the better—stronger—she felt. But it’s a dangerous game, and there is such a thing as going too far…

This is a really interesting read! It reminds me a lot of Go Ask Alice. 

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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.