Other Award(s)

Book Review: Flush

Book Review: Flush
Author: 
Hiaasen, Carl
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Noah's dad is in jail for sinking the Coral Queen, a gambling boat that dumps raw sewage into the pristine water of the Florida keys. A fun adventure, Hiassen delivers yet again. So far he has done no wrong. I listened to this on cd and was not impressed by the narrator, but Zoe loved the parts she heard and wants to read it now. If that's not a tribute to the book, than I don't know what is.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: Steelheart

Steelheart
Author: 
Sanderson, Brandon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

With this book full of action and suspense, Brandon Sanderson incorporates sci-fi with drama and it comes together like a peanut butter jelly sandwich with milk. In a world of superhuman beings called Epics, David, an orphan living in Chicago, tries to survive where Epics roam rampant. Steelheart, the tyrant, controls all Epics and every part of the city; water, light, and law enforcement. The only part that isn’t controlled is the Reckoners who try to take out every Epic while being anonymous and secret. David, inspired by the Reckoners, soon finds himself part of the battle against the Epics. With this action-packed thriller, will David and the Reckoners take back Chicago or will the Epics be victorious?

Reviewer Age: 15

Reviewer's Name: 
Aiden F

Book Review: The Sorcerer in the North

The Sorcerer in the North
Author: 
Flanagan, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Will, now a fully trained Ranger, is embarking on an adventure with his childhood friend, Alyss. He is tasked to investigate a castle in the North when the Lord Syron is faced with an unknown and unexpected illness. As he and Alyss investigate, they find out more mysteries and sorceries. Will is then faced with trying to find out everything about everyone, whether they are traitors or supporters of Will and Araluen. His ultimate decision is to choose between the mission or to help Alyss, as she becomes a hostage.

The Sorcerer of the North takes away the obsolete story of Halt and Will.
Instead, it takes an approach to one of Will's childhood friends, bringing a new perspective to the table.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: The Burning Bridge

The Burning Bridge
Author: 
Flanagan, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The second installment of Ranger's Apprentice, The Burning Bridge continues the story of the young Ranger, Will and his master, Halt. In the everlasting Kingdom of Araluen, the people are safe from the enemies of Morgarath.
However, Will, Halt, and their companion, Horace, is sent to the neighboring city of Celtica to uncover disturbing truths that have passed by, and ongoing to the Kingdom of Araluen.

The Burning Bridge is a step-up from the previous book, The Ruins of Gorlan.
The Burning Bridge offers more to the story, with a deeper dive into the characters and their reactions. The story continues to move on, allowing for the characters to have a relative and in-depth behavior.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air
Author: 
Krakauer, Jon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Into Thin Air is a narrative story of the author and climber, Jon Krakauer.
He establishes that ever since he was a kid, climbing Mt. Everest was his dream. He later accomplishes his ambition down the line, but with more consequences than anything rewarding.

Into Thin Air uses a consistent tone of language to identify whether the situation represents relief or tension. This gathers more intensity for those who are interested in thrillers and adventurous stories. The narrative offers a variety of twists and turns throughout the plot in order to continue the use of curiosity and unpredictability of the end. The story is very interesting, and builds upon every single detail, from the start until the end of the book.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season
Author: 
Jemisin, N. K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

It’s been a while since I’ve read a fantasy book with such a unique magic system in place. I truly enjoyed the amount of thought that went into a world where the main source of power was that of the earth itself. From magma to solid obelisks, the ability to control the vibrations of the planet (either to amplify or dampen) had an interesting and logical follow-through in its characters and storyline. I’m honestly looking forward to eventually starting the next book in the series since the world was built so well. It’s no wonder that it ended up winning the Hugo Award for that year.

While I suppose The Fifth Season is also partly a pseudo-post-apocalypse story, it was only shown in small snippets and references here and there. Consequently, this would make this story almost “modern fantasy” in comparison to some of the classics. Additionally, this would explain some of the character elements added with little to no explanation or relevance to the plot. It sometimes seems like the sexual encounters and fluid genders of these characters are included o merely hit a checkbox of “inclusivity.” Sure, people who relate to these characters feel like their represented, but if these traits don’t affect the plot, then it doesn’t matter about their sexuality at all.

I also found the bold choice of second-person POV to be a bit jarring when it spliced in the more traditional third-person narrative. Initially, I thought these segments were striking in the way that it pulled me into the story. That was until I was given a name and a purpose and any number of other traits that made the “you” in the story into a character that was basically repeated throughout. I get how these different characters interacted to tell a much broader story (which is again, part of the book’s strength) I just didn’t care for the reader’s identity to be given to them via the second person POV.

A uniquely written and crafted fantasy with one or two minor flaws, I give The Fifth Season 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Big Little Lies

Book Review: Big Little Lies
Author: 
Moriarty, Liane
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

When a bullying issue arises in Kindergarten, several mothers duke it out on the elementary schoolyard. As we glimpse into the world of the three main mothers we see heart-wrenching elements unfold.

I didn't expect to get much out of this book. In fact, I thought it would be snarky and contrived. After all, the title smacks of drama. But I enjoyed it thoroughly, drama and all. I hadn't read the summary and didn't have any idea as to what would happen next. It was fun and powerful at the same time.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby
Author: 
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Great Gatsby is truly a masterpiece. The Great Gatsby tells the story of Nick and his mysterious neighbor Gatsby. Gatsby is very wealthy and throws grand parties, yet has a mysterious and possibly immoral past.
Fitzgerald is a master of imagery, character development, and mystery. Set during the Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby is a fascinating commentary on life in America. I understand why The Great Gatsby is a classic and many students are required to read it. The Great Gatsby is a wonderful book that any reader from high school to adults can enjoy and learn something from.

Reviewer's Name: 
John B

Book Review: The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings
Author: 
Sanderson, Brandon
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The highlight of The Way of Kings is assuredly the masterful world building. Sanderson manages to craft a fantastical and believable world with unique quirks and mountains of lore. With an exciting narrative to boot, this book (over a thousand pages long) tends to threaten other menial activities such as sleep. Though occasionally losing momentum through its frequent shift of character viewpoints, The Way of Kings is definitely a worthwhile read with compelling characters and gripping action.

Reviewer's Name: 
Evan T

Book Review: Under a Painted Sky

Under a Painted Sky
Author: 
Lee, Stacey
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Under a Painted Sky is a fictional western story set in 1849 on the Oregon Trail. It is about two girls named Samantha and Annamae who after some unfortunate luck leave their home, Missouri, behind to start a new life, but they must first survive the Oregon Trail. While traveling along the Oregon Trail, Samantha and Annamae disguise themselves as boys to avoid unwanted attention and they join a group of cowboys, but will Samantha and Annamae be able to trust them? Under a Painted Sky is a story about friendship and self-discovery that leaves you wanting to read more. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Under a Painted Sky because Stacy Lee developed the characters very well and I would recommend reading it.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Emma G

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