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


Tsarist Tragedy

Author: Candace Fleming

I didn't know much about Tsarist Russia and the tragedy of the Imperial Romanov family before reading this book. The author's deft writing had me hooked before the first chapter was over. We know the final outcome before starting the book, and the author does a great job setting the scene of life in Russia before, during, and after the fall of the Tsarist Empire. Tsar Nicholas and his family were so far removed from the people over which they ruled, watching these events play out to their ultimate end was like watching the proverbial train wreck. You know what's coming, and you can see exactly how every moment is unrelentingly and irrevocably unfolding into the next, but you just can't tear your gaze away -- or put the book down -- until the horrible end finally arrives.

Very engaging writing makes this book an easy read, and it should be accessible to middle school students, as well as older teens and adults. The author provides newly accessible and highly informative journal and diary entries written by people from all social strata and many different occupations, bringing her picture of Imperial Russia, the Bolshevik Revolution, and World War I vividly to life. A section of photographs, some taken by the Imperial family (who would have guessed that they were nuts for photography?) provide an additional layer of detail.

A must-read for anyone interested in learning more about this period in history!

Author: Ruta Sepetys

I love historical fiction. I know, I know…sounds nerdy, right? I can accept that judgment. So with so many books to read and so little time to read them all, I choose to multitask. A well written novel rocks. A well written novel that teaches me something about a different era or culture rocks my socks off (ok, now I am really deserving of the nerdy label)! This winter I read Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys and it quickly became a go-to recommendation for my adolescent students. Because I enjoyed her first book so much, I decided to give her book Out of the Easy a try.

Why try to get “out of the easy?” Well, it's 1950 and eighteen year old Josie is trying desperately to escape her life in the Big Easy—New Orleans. And trust me, there is a lot for her to escape: her pitiful mother who doubles as a prostitute, the brothel Josie cleans, and the horrible mix-up romance she endures. If the definition of serendipity is everything wonderful happening at once, then Josie’s life is the opposite. Jo wants to not only escape New Orleans, she wants to attend Smith College in Massachusetts. Things in the Big Easy go from bad to worse through a series of events that leaves her life in shambles. I found myself frantically turning the pages, anxious to learn if Jo was accepted in the college of her dreams. Would she ever be able to leave her old life behind and overcome her fear of following in her mother’s footsteps?

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Author: Julia Alvarez

The novel begins with the recollections of Dede, the fourth and surviving sister, who fears abandoning her routines and her husband to join the movement. Alvarez also offers the perspectives of the other sisters: brave and outspoken Minerva, the family's political ringleader; pious Patria, who forsakes her faith to join her sisters after witnessing the atrocities of the tyranny; and the baby sister, sensitive Maria Teresa, who, in a series of diaries, chronicles her allegiance to Minerva and the physical and spiritual anguish of prison life. I absolutely love this books, it's one of my favorites, and I actually found it accidentally when I was walking through the library. It's based on the real Butterflies, but the story is pretty much all fiction. 5/5 Stars, just because it's exciting, sad, and funny, and it really makes you think about how easy we all have it.

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Mattie is just trying to make it all work. Her mom died, her older brother ran away, and she has four younger sisters to take care of. Set in 1906, her sisters and her father live on a farm, trying to make ends meet. She aspires to be a writer, and when she is accepted to college with a full scholarship, it seems like her dream will come true. The only problem is her father. He doesn't want her to be a big, fancy writer, he needs her to stay at home and be another set of hands on the farm. When her teacher Miss Wilcox persists in her going to college, she still dreams of it. The only thing in the way is Royal Loomis, a beautiful farm boy that is being sweet on Mattie. Will she stay with him and give up her dreams? Will money problems drive her to stay at home? Or will she make it to college?
This book is full of unexpected twists. It is especially interesting with the change of plot (going from her memories of life on the farm to her current life as a hotel worker). Another intriguing aspect is the murder that happens at the hotel that gives her a new view on life.
This is a fun, heart-warming, maddening, happy, sad, exciting, cannot-put-it-down book. I give it 5/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting read!!!

Author: Gaston Leroux

Okay, so who hasn't heard of the Phantom of the Opera? It's a story about an opera house that is haunted by a man, a genius, a mad genius, a mad genius that happened to a monster, but he was quite human, though, still a monster. He has the face of "Death's head", four dark holes in his face. Two holes instead of eyes, he had no nose, and for a mouth,'ll have to figure that one out for your self. He also did some terrible things, including murder, kidnapping, torturing...the list goes on. It is also a story of a young girl named Christine Daae, who lost her father at a young age. Before he died he told her that when he was in heaven, he would send her the Angel of Music, and she has been visited by the angel. Then one day she comes forth on the stage and enchants every one with a voice angel's. In the crowd there is a young man who recognizes her from their child-hood years. But when they meet each other again, Christine seems distant.

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Author: Bern Gaudet

When I first started this book, I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. Once I got past the first few chapters and the real action started, I was drawn in quickly. The main character, a teenage girl by the name of Amanda, was off in Texas to be a part of a cousin's reunion, which was set up to get the family closer together, while her parents were on vacation. The first few chapters are pretty much everyone getting to know each other. A few chapters later, a big storm hits and everything takes a weird and scary turn. Accidents start to happen, people suddenly disappear, bodies are found. The story keeps you wondering until the very end. Who's the cause of all the chaos? Marty, the mean-spirited one? Chris, the nice, caring tag-along who fell in love with Amanda? You'll just have to read it to find out!

Author: Stieg Larsson

Mikael Blomkvist is journalist who finds himself convicted in a libel case and facing the potential demise of his magazine along with a jail sentence. So when Henrik Vanger, an aging businessman, offers Mikael a job to uncover the mystery of young Harriet Vanger’s disappearance, he decides to take it. Harriet (Henrik’s niece) disappeared in the 1960s, when she was just 16 years old and now (forty years later) no trace of her has ever been uncovered. Henrik Vanger is convinced someone in the Vanger family murdered the young girl, and he wants to know how and who. In an effort to solve the mystery, Mikael begins to research the dysfunctional Vanger family and eventually seeks the help of a research assistant named Lisbeth Salander – an odd, antisocial 24 year old whose primary skill is hacking into seemingly secure computer systems and unearthing information about just about anyone. This book was extremely long and uninteresting until about half way though, it was so boring that i was just about ready to give up on it and call it quits. Thank god i didn't because this book was amazing despite the extremely think plot, the need for knowledge about the legal system, and a good memory. I would gove this book 4 1/2 stars, and overall i enjoyed it :)

Title: Immortal
Author: Gillian Shields

Evie johnson is sent to Wydlcliffe Abbey School for young ladies, nestled in the moors. Her Grandmother, is on her deathbad,and with her father in the military, her life is pretty bleak. Arriving A Wydlcliife, a sries of strange events occurs, first, a run in with a mysterious handsome stranger haunts her thoughs, and the death of a former student,remains still unsolved.The only escape she has is the mysteruios boy, Sebastien, as she sneaks out to meet him every night, she begins to love him. But she senses that all isn't right with her true love either. Evie realizes something isn't right a Wyldcliffe, and enlists the help of her friends Sarah and Helen, to uncover it's dark secrets. In a story of true love, suspenseful secrets, and hidden powers, this book is a beautifully woven tale of history and magic. And the dire consequences that can happen if we make the wrong choice, as in Sebastiens case. I highly reccomend this series. Book two is called Betrayal and i can not wait to get my hands on it!

Title: Lord Loss
Author: Darren Shan

 “My hand's on the door knob. My fingers won't move. I keep my ear pressed to the wood, waiting...praying. A tear trickles from my left eye it dries on my cheek from the heat. Inside the room somebody giggles. Low, throaty,sadistic. Not Mom, Dad, or Gret. There's a riplling sound followed by snaps and crunches. My hand turns. The door opens. Hell is revealed.”

Have you ever thought of demons? And if they were real or not? Have you ever felt so alone. Well, Grubbs Grady has been through Hell. First, he's been the eyewitness of the murder of his mom, dad, and sister. Two, secrets are revealed. The world is cruel, and Magic is as real as your presence.

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Author: Julius Lester

Wow! This book just blew me away. The content is mind blowing. Two seemingly content and adjusted adults, Rachel/mom/artist and Eric/dad/psychologist have a marriage that is disintegrating until the horrible fateful day when Eric kills Rachel by two bullets to the head in front of a coffee shop in broad daylight. The story is told in turns by their two children Jenna and Jeremy who are about at the age of adolescence. Subsequently, Jenna and Jeremy have to make some very adult decisions. Among them, will they testify in favor of their dad in court? Who will they choose to live with out of relatives and friends? Where will they live? You read the headlines in the paper about such acts of violence but it is only after having read this book that I realize how many complicated (& sad) layers there are to such a story. There are distinct sexual threads in this book and some language. I would recommend this book to mature Young Adults. It is definitely haunting.