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Teen Read Week: Soaring Eagle 2014-15

Teen Read Week Friday: Turn Dreams into Reality


Soaring Eagle Book Awards: soaringeagleA book award chosen by teens, for teens

The Soaring Eagle Book Award allows Wyoming teens (grades 7-12) to select a favorite book and honor the author. The award is sponsored by the Wyoming Library Association and the Wyoming State Reading Council.

Teens are challenged to read at least 3 books on the list before voting each spring. Teens also nominate the books for the next year’s award.

Click here to see the entire list of this year’s nominated books.


Every year I challenge myself to read as many of the nominated Soaring Eagle titles as I can, although I have yet to successfully complete that challenge. I want to be familiar with the books on the list and be able to promote them to teens and adults. When parents ask for books their teens might like or when teens ask for suggestions on what to read next, the Soaring Eagle nominees are a great reference since the titles on the list are nominated by teens.  Often times our teen book clubs choose books from the list so they are prepared to vote.

Below are my reviews of the first three books I’ve read from the current list.


Between Shades of GrayBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Most of us have probably read a book or watched a movie about the Holocaust and the horrors the Jews went through at the hands of Germany. But until now, I wasn’t aware that they were not alone. At the same time as the Nazi’s reign of terror, Stalin and the Soviet Union were rounding up Eastern Europeans who opposed him and forcing them into work camps in Siberia.

Lina, her mother, and younger brother are arrested in Lithuania and forced upon a train. The trip seems endless and is full of horrors, not limited to lack of food, space, no proper bathing and bathroom facilities, and watching the weak perish. Those who didn’t die on the trip are forced to live in cramped shacks and to work for no pay and barely any food rations in camps in the frigid arctic regions. Lina is an artist and uses her skill to secretly document their journey and try to contact their father, who was taken to a separate facility.

Will they survive? Who can they trust and who would allow humans to be treated this way? This novel is based in part on the author’s family history.

Why I picked up the book: Several book clubs I’m in had read it and it was NCHS’s One School One Book in spring 2013. I wanted to read it as a possible book club selection.
Why I finished the book: Like the author, I wasn’t aware of this part of WWII. I couldn’t put the book down. Someone from another book club I attended mentioned that she didn’t think she would have been able to survive just not having the opportunity to be clean, much less the lack of food. I think I agree.
I’d give it to: Readers who like historical fiction and holocaust books; those who read and liked Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay and/or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I started reading The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult at the same time I was reading this and they fit together well too.

Want to read it? Click here to place the book on hold!


The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Hazel is not your average teenager. Even though she is only sixteen, Hazel has been out of high school for three years and is taking college classes. At her parent’s request, she also attends weekly support group meetings for teens with cancer. Hazel was diagnosed at age thirteen with stage IV thyroid cancer which spread to her lungs. She almost died but thanks to an experimental drug and round the clock oxygen therapy, Hazel is terminal but alive.

During one support group meeting, Hazel spies a new guy who won’t stop staring at her. This handsome gentleman is Augustus Waters, age 17. Augustus is a survivor who lost his leg but not his humor, wisdom, or thirst for life and truth.

Hazel and Augustus begin a fated friendship/relationship. Hazel shares her favorite book, “An Imperial Affliction” by Peter Van Houten, and Augustus shares his love of sniper video games. When Hazel mentions that she’d like to meet Mr. Van Houten and find out what happens after the book abruptly ends, Augustus has a plan.

Do you believe in fate? True love? Even if we aren’t promised tomorrow, someday, or forever, are you living your best life today?

Why I picked up the book: I love John Green and I’ve read his first two books, Looking for Alaska and The Abundance of Katherines. I think he is one of the best voices in literary YA.
Why I finished it: While the topic is heavy (teens with terminal cancer), the author injects humor, quirkiness, and fun into the novel. I’ve heard other reviewers say they don’t think real teenagers talk the way the Green’s characters do but I think that is part of the author’s genius. He writes the above-average intelligence character and appeals to the more literary readers. (Secret: I’ve actually read this book over five times! I finished it and immediately wanted to read it again. I did but waited a month before doing so. I read it again at the end of the 2012 for another book club. This is the book I would read over and over if I had the time.) I listened to the audio version in 2013. It won an Odyssey award (best audio) and Kate Rudd does a great Hazel. Audio also includes a Q&A with John Green.
I’d give it to: John Green fans, who will definitely not be disappointed.

Want to read it? Click here to place the book on hold!


Royal Ranger (Ranger’s Apprentice book 12) is the actual title on this year’s list. However, if you have not already read the other eleven books in the series, you must start at number one.

The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1)The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

Will has always dreamed of being a warrior and a hero, like the father he never knew, but his small stature almost guarantees that dream won’t be a reality. On Choosing Day, Will and the other wards of Baron Arald’s Castle Redmont one by one are assigned to their apprenticeships. Will is disappointed when he is denied for Battleschool and Horseschool. But Will’s curiosity is piqued by the appearance of the Ranger Halt, who gives the Baron a letter. The Baron looks at the note and tells Will that he will give his answer on Will’s fate in the morning. Will is too intrigued by the prospect of what might be in the note and decides to break into the Baron’s office that night. It turns out that the note was a set-up, to see if he indeed would break in. Halt has requested Will for Ranger training. Little is known about Rangers and it seems that the skills that often get Will into trouble (sneaking around, eavesdropping, climbing, etc) are perfect for being a Ranger. He must also learn to shoot a bow and arrow, use a knife, and disappear into the shadows. While being a Ranger’s apprentice might not seem like a stellar appointment, Will may find himself right in the middle of the battle of his dreams.

Why I picked up the book: I haven’t read it before because this series doesn’t need my help finding readers. I have fans in my book club who wanted to discuss it so it was time. I tend not to read fantasy so it is a good stretch for me.
Why I finished it: Once I got past the prologue, which I read 3 times and am still lost, it is very quick and easy to follow. I probably won’t continue reading the series now, but maybe when my son is older.
I’d give it to: anyone and especially boys. (I have a lot of families and dads reading it!) Also fans of Harry Potter.

Want to read it? Click here to place the book on hold!

Reviews by Jenn, YA Librarian (View all my Goodreads reviews)

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