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9781470300814-LSynopsis:  Jordan Johnston, a sixth-grader, feels utterly ordinary in every way.  Like most young girls, she longs to feel special and talented and thinks that everyone around her has all the talents she lacks.  She tries many different activities in hopes that each will  be the thing that makes her stand out.  She deals with bullies and best friends and disappointments and compliments.  In the end, she discovers a measure of her own worth in a surprising way.

Rachel:  The end of this book was very surprising.  If you don’t like books that are about girls, this isn’t for you.  I literally loved this book.  This is realistic fiction.

Mom:  I enjoy Andrew Clements’ ability to create an authentic feeling for young people.  This book felt like I was talking to my daughter.  I appreciated the plot line involving the bully.  Instead of the typical underdog facing up to the mean kid, or the more modern anti-bullying and harrassment school policies, Jordan deals with her problem with kindness and understanding.  I love the uplifting message.  So many girls are quick to see the talents of others and equally as quick to dismiss their own positive traits.  This book may encourage girls to look at themselves in a new way.


InfinityRing-book1-flatcoverSynopsis:  Infinity Ring is a series like 39 Clues, where each book has a different author.  The premise is that history has been altered by the evil SQ corporation, and needs to be put right before the world collapses into chaos.  Our heroes, Dak, Sera, and Riq, have missions from the rebel group Hystorians in which they must correct the breaks in history.  This first book sets the backstory, and lands the adventurers in the time of Christopher Columbus.  Once the book is completed, there is a separate adventure/game on the website involving a different time period.  Each book will have a separate bonus adventure on the web.

Matthew:  I liked the Infinity Ring series.  The plot really got my attention.  My favorite parts were actually the sarcastic remarks the characters said when they were arguing.  This book combines two of my favorite story elements: time paradoxes and humor.

Mom:  James Dashner is one of my favorite authors and he has a wonderful creative imagination.  The book was engaging and funny and a very quick read.  It almost belongs in the steampunk genre, with lots of fun changes to modern history that kids are sure to pick out.  I hope that future authors keep to the same line, with no swear words or inappropriate situations.  I spent about 2 hours playing the online game, which is set in the French Revolution.  It was somewhat challenging, but not so much that a preteen would give up in despair.  The graphics are really cool.  All in all, this is cool enough that it will tempt a reluctant reader to give it a try.

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King


Synopsis:  Nicholas St. North is a pirate and a ruffian who turns out to have a heart of gold.  But this book isn’t just about Nicholas.  It is also about the wizard Ombric, a girl named Katherine, the man in the moon, and a fearsome villain called Pitch.  Moonbeams play a role, as well as nightmares and fearlings, with a surprise appearance from an army of yetis.

Rachel:  It was surprising that I really didn’t know everything about St. Nicholas.  This book was adventurous.  If I were a character in the book,  I’d be Katherine!

Benjamin:  I liked the book, but it was a little weird.  It was a fun book to read.  It’s not my favorite, but I really did like it.  All the references to the moon and the man in the moon made it kind of strange.  Otherwise it was an awesome book.

Mom:   I agree with Ben that this book was a little strange.  The writing was kind of uneven and the character development wasn’t the best.  However,  the ideas in this book were creative and unusual; not your standard sort of fairy tale.  If you are expecting a sappy recreation of the life of Santa Claus, forget it!  This is not that book.  I really enjoyed the fabulous illustrations, which change the whole character of the book.  This book might tempt a reluctant reader who enjoys adventures.



Synopsis:  Jamie Grimm, a young comedian in a wheelchair, wants to try his luck in the “Funniest Kid in America” contest.  There is a big mystery in his past that is slowly revealed during the course of the book.  Jamie has a lot of  issues that are common to middle school kids and a cheerful courageous attitude toward life.  Written in first person,  this book contains a lot of jokes and really wonderful illustrations.

Matthew: I funny had me cracking up.  All ages will enjoy this hilarious middle school story. James Patterson has written a lot of great teen books and this was no exception. I really liked that the book was not all jokes, but also taught an important lesson.

Ben:  If you are looking for funny, come to this book.  If not, leave this book far, far away from you.  I loved it!  It was totally awesome.  The kissing part was kind of weird and I didn’t enjoy it that much, but over all the book was pretty good.

Mom:  I’m not all that into silly junior-high jokes, but I really liked the story and the mystery.  Unlike some of Patterson’s books, there is nothing objectionable here (unless you are a preteen boy and count a kiss as objectionable).  This book says a lot, subtly, about overcoming trials and troubles cheerfully and making the best of bad situations.

8100267From the  inside front cover:  A powerful secret.  A dangerous path.

Rigg is well trained at keeping secrets.  Only his father knows the truth about Rigg’s strange talent for seeing the paths of people’s pasts.  But when his father dies, Rigg is stunned to learn just how many secrets Father had kept from him – secrets about Rigg’s own past, his identity, and his destiny.  And when Rigg discovers that he has the power not only to see the past, but also to change it, his future suddenly becomes anything but certain.

Rigg’s birthright sets him on a path that leaves him caught between two factions, one that wants him crowned and one that wants him dead.  He will be forced to question everything he thinks he knows, choose who to trust, and push the limits of his talent  . . . or forfeit control of his destiny.

Matthew:  A very intriguing book, in particular the dealings with time. Card has a whole new take on the time paradox, which was confusing at first, but eventually grew to be my favorite part of the book. If you are interested in mysteries, space exploration, time exploration, and the many possibilities of evolution this is the book for you.

Mom:  Wow!  I thought about this book for a long time.  There are two separate and very different plot lines which converge at the end in a surprising way.  Unlike Card’s Enders’ Game, this has no bad language, which makes it a much more readable book.  Since the plot is so complex, I wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers.  I found it fascinating!


From the inside jacket:  As champions of the Brotherband competition, Hal and the rest of the Herons were given one simple assignment: safeguard the Skandians’ most sacred artifact, the Andomal.

They failed.

To redeem themselves, the Herons must rack down the thief Zavac and his pirate crew and recover the Andomal.  But that means traversing stormy seas, surviving a bitter winter, and battling a group of deadly bandits willing to protect their prize at all costs.

In the second chapter of John Flanagan’s companion to the blockbuster series Ranger’s Apprentice, the Herons learn that even Brotherband training and the help of Skandia’s greatest warrior may not be enough to ensure that they return home with the Andomal – or their lives.

Ben:  Truly exciting, adventurous, I read for three hours straight and loved it.  If you ignore this book, you are a sad person.  I really liked the fact that there were a lot of sailing terms. You could almost be there in the action.  It was easy to follow and not confusing.

Mom:  I like to read John Flanagan for a couple of reasons.  First, there is little in the way of objectionable material.  No swearwords, no sexual suggestiveness, no moral relativism, just a good clean adventure.  There is some violence, because this is a book about battles and fighting.  But the good guys are really good and the bad guys are really bad and deserve what they get.

That brings me to the second reason I enjoyed this book.  Mr. Flanagan’s main characters are good people who are trying to do good things.  They have flaws and faults, but they are  constantly trying to improve and change and they are aware of how their actions affect those around them.  I think most teenage boys connect to that and would like to sail with them.  If you just want to escape for a few hours, this book (and all of the Ranger’s Apprentice series and the first Brotherband Chronicles) will do the trick.


Synopsis from book:  “When Miri and a few of the girls from Mount Eskel’s princess academy travel to the capital to help the princess-to-be get ready for her wedding, they have no idea what to expect.  Some are worried about leaving their beloved mountain home for the first time, others are thrilled about going to the big city, and Miri is mostly just happy to see her best friend.

“But not everything in Asland is as perfect as the mountain girls hoped.  As Miri learns more about her new home, she finds herself deep in the middle of an upheaval that affects everyone she loves.  Torn between her loyalty to the princess and her belief in her new friends’ daring ideas, and between an old love and new crush, Miri must test the strengths and skills she gained in the princess academy.”

Rachel:  This book was very exciting.  My favorite scene was when Britta saved the four-year old boy.  There is some guns and a little violence, but it is pretty good anyway.  The story turns and twists all around.  I thought that Miri’s choice would be good and not bad, but it turned out different than I thought.  This wasn’t as good as the first one, but it is still very exciting.  For younger kids:  there is some romance, but only a little.  Yuck!

Mom:  I always enjoy Shannon Hale’s books and this was no exception.  This sequel to the first Princess Academy retains some of the romance, but introduces a new political element.  There are mysteries and plot twists and surprising revelations throughout.  As always, the writing draws the reader into the book, making it hard to put down.

Welcome to Family Style Books!

Want to find a great new teen or middle-grade book to read?  We can help!  Our family enjoys reading and we often find ourselves stealing each other’s books.  We want to let you know what we are reading and what we recommend.  What makes this blog different is that both teens and parents will be reviewing the same book, so you get the benefit of both perspectives.

My name is Melissa Marwedel and I have four children. My teenage boys love science fiction, magic and adventure books, while my pre-teen girl likes history and  fantasy.  The 2 year old is fond of board books and stealing bookmarks.

We care about good books and great authors.  We usually steer clear of books with lots of violence, bad language or inappropriate situations.  With each review, we will make an effort to warn you if there is anything we would consider questionable in our home, so you can make an informed decision.  There are so many good books out there, though, that I know we will have lots to share with you.