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All Book Reviews

The Maze Runner
Dashner, James
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I have read this book a total of four times and cannot get enough. The story is of teens being forced into a maze and having to think of a creative way to get out. With grievers which are the monsters that haunt the maze and thrilling action on every page it leaves me wanting more every time I read this book. I picked this book since I have a love for action and adventure movies and after hearing that this movie was coming out I decided to read the book. I enjoyed the action of the story and how much I could relate to the story. The only thing I did not like about the book is that the story line was slow or stuck at certain points during the story. It was overall very exciting and kept me up for hours. The book was moderately predictable although I was not sure whether they would or would not make it out of the maze. It was definitely one of the best books I have ever read and would highly suggest it.
Reviewer: Grade 9

Reviewer's Name: Sarah C.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

To Kill a Mockingbird shows us that growing up can not always be as easy as it seems. Especially when you live in Maycomb, Alabama, and your father is a lawyer defending a black man. Scout grows up not knowing much about the real world it is not until the trial that turns the whole town upside down that she really discovers how the South is really run. I love how relatable the characters are to teenagers like us today. I love how simple the story line is and the literature is beautiful. It tells you simply how things should be, it states things blatantly through Scout's eyes. The only thing I did not like about the book is that at some points it was hard to follow the story line. Although the story is very simple it got more complex when reading further. I chose this book because I had heard from many people that this was an incredible book and decided to see for myself. The book itself did surprise me as it did have a rather twist ending that was rather unpredictable. The characters were extremely relatable, I could see that in certain situations I would have acted similarly. I would say that it is definitely one of the best book I have read this year or even ever for multiple reasons. It can relate to old and young and describes an issue that still exists today.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Sarah C.
Genres:
The Green Ember
Smith, S.D.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Green Ember is a wonderful, adventurous book! It is about two young rabbits, Heather and Picket, trying to protect their friend and prince, Prince Jupiter Smalls, from the terrible, evil bird named Morbin Blackhawk. Morbin Blackhawk has killed Smalls' father and is now trying to kill the heir to Jupiter's throne, aka Prince Jupiter Smalls. S. D. Smith did a great job on writing this book and giving foreshadowing and a lot of literary devices. This book is one of my favorites!

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey
Genres:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I love this book! It is a fun magical book and is perfect for us kids. J. K. Rowling did an amazing job making the characters and creating the settings and scenes to where you can picture them in your head. It is about a young boy named Harry and his friends named Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger working as a team to stop to most evil wizard in the history of magic from getting a stone that makes you immortal. This book has some very funny scenes:) I really enjoyed this book and I think you would too!

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey
Genres:
Book Review: Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
Steptoe, Javaka
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a beautiful book. It won the Caldecott Medal, so that's saying something. The artwork is fantastic. The book tells the story of Jean-Michel Basquiat's life in a free form jazz-inspired style. I'm not familiar with Jean-Michel Basquiat's work and now I want to see it for myself. There's a biography in the back. I only read this book once to my daughter. If I had read it more than once, I'd probably give it 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps
Warren, Andrea
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

There are a crap ton of holocaust books out there. That said, this is a good one. The author interviews a survivor and recounts his horrible tenure in the death camps. The result is riveting. This book is classified as juvenile, but it's best for upper elementary and older, including adults.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin
Griffin, Kathy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Kathy Griffin is remarkably well spoken. I enjoyed reading this book because it seemed like she was just talking to me. She dishes on celebrities, which is fun. It will come as no surprise that she's funny, but she's also very smart and loyal to her friends and family. Good memoir!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Written on my Heart
Rogers, Morgan Callan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Written on My Heart tells a tale of young Florine Gilham and Bud Warner, a couple soon to be married. As the wedding approaches, Florine's memory is drawn back to her mother. She disappeared when Florine was only twelve years old. Florine and Bud face the challenge of trying to solve the mystery of her vanishing mother all while raising a family. It comes to a path that shows them the power of families, not only the one's you are born into, but the one's that are because of friendship.
Overall, this fiction was fun to read, but does get a little bit boring in the beginning. It does speed up, and the author's impressive writing creates the whole scene for the book.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Kristin V.
Genres:
The Martian
Weir, Andy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Martian tells a tale of a man named Mark Watney who is abandoned on Mars. Watney was one of the first people to walk on Mars in the Ares III spacecraft. After a dust storm nearly kills Watney and leaves his crew members no choice but to evacuate the planet, Mark is left all alone on an unknown planet with no contact to the Earth world. With his humorous personality, will Watney survive the harsh conditions that Mars has to offer?
This book is absolutely incredible. Completely accurate facts about Mars, humor, and all around just amazing to read. The Martian is definitely one of my favorite reads.
Reviewer grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Kristin V.
Reunited
Graham, Hilary Weisman
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Middle school best friends separate as high school approaches. Just as the girls broke up their favorite band does as well. The ex-best friends went their separate ways for high school. Alice hit the books studying for her dream college. Summer on the other hand takes up her social life becoming popular. Rebellious teen,Tieran ended up in boarding school for high school.

After graduating high school Level 3 reunite for one concert.When their favorite band comes back together will they? Reunited tells the story of a of three friends who go on a journey of changing friendship. The characters must overcome what tore them apart in the first place and make new memories along the way. This book is so much more than I expected. I thought Reunited would just be about ex-best friends becoming best friends again. However the author give you detailed descriptions and allows you to see a clear image in your mind. Which really made the book more than I expected. Before reading this book you should know the book changes perspective frequently so you have to figure out who's perspective it is. Overall I would recommend reading Reunited.
Reviewer Grade: 6

Reviewer's Name: McKenzie W.
Steelheart
Sanderson, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Steelheart is an amazing book with vivid details, vigorous action,and real emotions. I heard about this book from school but only just recently read the book. While it has similar aspects of other teen dystopian novels it is still entirely different. The book is worthy of five stars because of the enjoyment I found reading it. Some books are good but you may not enjoy them.

The author took me into the world of Steelheart and showcases a different side of being human through the power of fear. However Steelheart shows a hopeless world humans are no longer strong. Many dystopian novels are about hope of a cure(etc). The book shows a world which there is no hope for the hero to come. David Charleston saw it, the death of his father. From that day on he searches to avenge his father's death. David Charleston spends all his time researching the Epics for one of them killed his father.

The Epics were the super humans who over power the world with brutal cruelty.

Not only are the epics cruel they also have superpowers. The only people still fighting Epics are the Reckoners and David may have to join them.

Reviewer Grade: 6

Reviewer's Name: McKenzie W.
Anna and the Swallow Man
Savit, Gavriel
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In Poland in 1939, seven year old Anna's father went to work one day, never to return. As such, she finds herself learning to survive under the care of a stranger that she knows only as "the swallow man". Together, they escape Russian and German soldiers and travel the Eastern European countryside as they try to survive and make sense of the world that seems to be crumbling around them.

As this won the Odyssey Award (excellence in audio production) last year, I decided to give it a listen and I'm so glad that I did. The narration was excellent, but it would've been great even with a lesser narrator. This is a brilliantly written book that covers so much ground physically, metaphysically and metaphorically. Many things the Swallow man says or that Anna thinks are steeped in rich allegory and open for interpretation. Some of the things said are merely simple truths. Almost all of it feels somehow important and relevant. For example:

“The world as it exists is a very, very dangerous place.”

and

“Human beings are the best hope in the world of other human beings to survive.”

and

“Normally, her mind was like a busy beach - all day long she would run back and forth, leaving footprints, building small mounds and castles, writing out ideas and diagrams with her fingers in the sand, but when the night tide came in, she would close her eyes and allow each wave of rhythmic breath to wash in and out over her day's accumulation, and before long the beach would be clear and empty, and she would drift off to sleep.”

That, folks, is how you write prose. Insert clapping emoji here.

Plotting takes the background as this book is all about character development and parables and life lessons. It's about the importance of language, and people, and what it takes to stay alive when there's a war on. It's about being human and growing up. It's about family and love and necessity. It's about war. It's brutal and human and tender all at same time. And it's very, very good. 4 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
Genres:
The True Tails of Baker & Taylor: The Library Cats Who Left Their Pawprints on a Small Town and the World
Louch, Jan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Do you love libraries? Who doesn't? So everyone should love this book. Baker and Taylor are two Scottish Fold cats adopted by a small library in Nevada. This library has a mouse problem so Jan Louch, Assistant Librarian, researches good cat breeds for libraries. First Baker is adopted and the fun is doubled when Baker's nephew, Taylor, is added to the staff. Patrons, staff and even a fan club comprised of a 4th grade class add to these heartwarming tales. Adorable pictures complete the delightful mix.

Reviewer's Name: Cele
A Man Called Ove
Backman, Frederik
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I absolutely loved this book. On the cover it said you would laugh and cry as you got to know a Man Called Ove. And it was true! Ove is a man with blinding grief after losing his wife and then being forced to retire from his job. He has no purpose and doesn't want to live. But one by one, people (and a cat) come into his life and gives his purpose. Friedrik Backman was able to tackle so many social issues in this book. I was very impressed how he handle things and didn't really have to "hit" you over the head with the issues. This book is a fast read and great for book discussion groups. I can't wait to read more by Fredrik Backman!

Reviewer's Name: Melissa
Genres:
Beneath Wandering Stars
Cowles, Ashlee
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In a lot of ways, Gabriela’s life has felt just like Homer’s Odyssey: one never-ending journey with no place to call home. From birth, she has been learning that “people are the only home the Army issues” as she moves from base to base at the whim of her father’s marching orders. Now that her boyfriend’s back in Texas and her older brother has abandoned her to enlist, Gabi decides that their new post in Germany is her last. She dreams of her escape the minute she graduates from high school in a year's time.

Gabi’s plans are put on hold when her brother, Lucas, gets seriously wounded in action. In one of his last letters, Lucas requests that if anything were to happen to him; Gabi, Gabi’s father, and Lucas’ best friend Seth walk the Camino de Santiago—a 500 mile pilgrimage across Spain—for him. This is harder than it sounds since Gabi thinks Seth is the reason Lucas enlisted and Gabi’s dad has responsibilities he can’t abandon to walk the trail. As Gabi starts out on her adventure, she is determined to discover how much Seth really is to blame for her brother’s injuries, and what exactly is keeping her and her father from understanding each other.

While I'm not quite a military brat, I grew up moving back and forth from overseas and I love how Gabi (the main character) expresses some of the struggles she faces moving, moving again, and adapting to new cultures--even on base.

While being age-appropriate for the average teen, this book covers a lot of the tough issues that all of us, and especially military brats, come up against on a regular basis. Cowles allows you to think it all through and has her character come up with some answers, but doesn't force you to decide what you think by the end of the book. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who have ever felt like a wanderer.

Reviewer's Name: Danielle
Genres:
And Then There Were None
Christie, Agatha
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I often have a hard time with mysteries, but And Then There Were None was classic, suspenseful and just plain enjoyable. The audiobook version was especially entertaining, perhaps because the original story was written as a play under an alternate (and controversial) title. The characters feel like they were the predecessors to the characters found in the game Clue. They are equally sinister and sympathetic. I am particularly intrigued with the connecting reason all of them have been brought to the island and the psychological effects of that reason. To the very end Agatha Christie teases your deductive reasoning skills. You always feel like you are on the cusp of finding out who the killer is, and then you're wrong! I was completely at a loss by the end. Thanks goodness for the epilogue. This is a timeless mystery classic.

Reviewer's Name: Danielle
The Quest for the Diamond Sword : A Minecraft Gamer's Adventure
Morgan, Winter
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It was almost perfect!

Reviewer's Name: Colorado Girl
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Skloot, Rebecca
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book tells three intertwining stories and spans decades, centering on an immortal line of human cells, taken from an African American woman named Henrietta Lacks in the 1950’s. She was afflicted with an aggressive form of cervical cancer, and through deception, gave her consent for the doctor to take cell samples. Her cell sample was coded as HeLa, and her real identity was not known. This event starts a fascinating, disturbing tale of medical ethics gone awry, capitalism in medicine, investigative journalism, and the contrasting lives of Lacks descendants.

The discovery of Henrietta’s immortal cancer cells, laid the foundation for most of the scientific discoveries we have made, and created a multi-billion dollar industry where her cells were sold all over the world as an infinite supply of scientific testing material. At the same time companies and hospitals were selling the HeLa cells, the Lacks family were living in extreme poverty, with no medical care. Author Rebecca Skloot bounces back and forth between Henrietta’s final days, and the present day, as she attempts to gain the trust of the Lacks family, discover who HeLa was, and how medical ethics were not always a reality. For a non-fiction book about cellular biology, it is a riveting detective story that also exposes medicines sordid past, and makes the reader question whether advancement of medicine is worth it at any cost.

Reviewer's Name: Michael
100 Skills You'll Need for the End of the World (As We Know It)
Spagna, Ana Maria
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This little book is full of more information than you can imagine. Each section is just enough to get you started, to pique your interest. (But if there is an entry that speaks to you, remember to check the library for a more in-depth book!)

From Bartering to Foraging and even Porch Sitting, each passage is illustrated delightfully. I chuckled every other page. Written playfully, yet with much seriousness - it is easy to quickly get sucked in and keep reading until you think your brain might burst from all that delicious information!

As soon as I got to the Hoarding passage, I sincerely wished Ana were my friend, or at the very least, nearby if and when the world (as we know it) ends.

Reviewer's Name: Morgan
atonement
McEwan, Ian
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

A metafiction novel documenting the struggles of a young misinformed thirteen year old, Atonement by Ian McEwan provides an intense glimpse into the power of lying and the consequences resulting from deception. Briony, a British girl in the early twentieth century witnesses a crime she twists in order to fuel her intense jealousy. Her eagerness to fulfill her own desires corrupts and destroys her sister Cecilia and Robbie’s romantic life and Robbie is whisked away into World War II. Within the last chapter of the book, current Briony reveals the truth about her manipulation of the book in order to immortalize the love between Cecilia and Robbie, both who die as a direct result of Briony’s lies. I would recommend the book to anyone willing to read deeper and not take everything written on page as the truth.

Those who enjoy deep, complex, twisted plots would be captivated by Atonement. The seriousness of the crime and depiction of the same scene from multiple perspectives limits the prospective audience to those high school and older. Despite the book’s intriguing start, the ending infuriates many as Briony lifts the curtain to reveal her distorted depiction in order to repent for her guilt. Atonement fortifies the pang of a guilty conscious and the powerful repercussions that result from lying.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Alex K.

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