All Book Reviews

Wild Bird
Van Draanen, Wendelin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Wild Bird is about a girl named Wren who has to go to a Wilderness Survival Camp because she is in a horrible spot in drugs and alcohol. She stays at the Wilderness Survival Camp for eight weeks. At first she hates it and is mad at her family for sending her there, but as she realizes her mistakes and makes a friend named Hannah, she starts to have fun. Throughout the eight weeks, she learns wilderness skills such as how to make a fire without a match, how to make and take down a tent quickly, but most importantly, she finds her true self.
I really enjoyed this book. It is a great fast read and I feel anyone would love it. I related to some things Wren said, nothing with drugs or alcohol. This is a great book and I rate it ten out of ten.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Awards:
Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ender’s Game is a science-fiction book set in the future of Earth. Humans have battled with the Formics or “Buggers” three times before. Mazer Rackham was the only reason why the Humans won the first two wars, and he can no longer fight. In anticipation of the third war, and in search of the next Mazer Rackham, Humankind has been training their youth to battle by the use of realistic war games, which are sometimes in zero gravity. When Andrew “Ender” Wiggin joins the other boys in the Battle Room, he clearly exceeds them in battle tactics, and leads his team to victory. Ender eventually finds himself being trained by Mazer Rackham himself as the battle draws nearer. This book displayed excellent character development, along with a sensational plot. Ender’s Game was action packed from start to finish. This book is an easy five stars, despite the author’s use of profanity. I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to read a quality Sci-Fi Novel.

Reviewer's Name: Zach M.
Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury, Ray
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel about society if books were
banned. Firemen burn books and one of the firemen is Guy Montag. He's the
main character but eventually he goes against the government and reads books.
His wife Mildred reports the authorities about his possession of books and he
is forced to burn his house, escape the city, and create a new life. After
being on the run from the government, he goes down a river to an unknown area
where he finds other people who read books and he joins their group.
Honestly, I thought it was an amazing book. I love how it puts the importance
of books into perspective and I think everyone should read it. I highly
recommend Fahrenheit 451.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The amount of description in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is
amazing. Like, Sherlock Holmes good. The characters are well mapped out, the
interactions felt thought through, and the relationships are believable. I
personally didn’t get all the detail the first read through, just from
enjoying the characters too much. The history is realistic, considering the
time period and how poorly the blacks were treated. All things considered,
this is an engaging read with some actual history.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Artemis Fowl
Colfer, Eoin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Artemis Foul is a thrilling book, bringing fantasy to reality. The
fantasy part of the book is really well done, as the technology for the most
part is realistic. The book follows mainly Artemis Foul, a 12-year-old genius
child, millionaire, and criminal mastermind. To get his family's fortune back
after his father is assumed dead, Artemis Foul dives into legend and comes
across fairies. But these fairies aren't the ones from bedtime stories, they
are dangerous and, when it comes to it, deadly. This book has a story with
many twists and turns. I highly recommend reading this book, it is a
must-read book.

Reviewer's Name: Torin
Star
Mishima, Yukio
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Rikio is a star and he likes the glamor, money and notoriety that comes with that lifestyle. His ears ring with the cheers, screams and exhortations of fans, mostly young women, who would kill for a moment with him. But it also means constant scrutiny, which has the 23-year-old celebrity struggling with his own anxieties and obsessions. What if those fans stop desiring him someday? The self-loathing star would rather be in character on a movie set than be himself.
Written shortly after starring in his first film, the late Yukio Mishima delivers a blunt, rich portrayal of a flawed young man lost between his public persona and private life. The novella, first published in 1961 and translated into English for the first time in 2019, is even more relevant now in today's 24/7 media landscape. Awards: Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature

Reviewer's Name: Joe P.
Awards:
The Murderbot Diaries #1: All Systems Red
Wells, Martha
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

We all struggle to figure out who we are. It’s no different for a robot that’s managed to secretly override its governor unit and develop self-aware independence. The artificial construct, made up of regenerative organic and artificial parts, privately calls itself Murderbot out an emerging sense of guilt it tries to squash by watching hours of mindless TV. But even that distraction cannot keep a socially awkward, self-conscious entity from developing feelings about the humans it serves. That internal conflict is so realistic it is easy for the reader to forget it is an artificial construct narrating. Murderbot’s deadpan humor keeps the 2017 novella from bogging down and raises it well above a familiar action/corporate malfeasance plot. The novella is the first of a five-part series, all available through PPLD, with a full-length novel, Network Effect (May 2020) continuing Murderbot’s journey of self discovery and soap operas. A sixth series entry is scheduled for April 2021.

Honors: 2017 Nebula Award for Best Novella, 2018 ALA/YALSA Alex Award, 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novella, 2017 Philip K. Dick Award finalist.

Reviewer's Name: Joe P.
Keeper of the Lost Cities
Messenger, Shannon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Keeper of the Lost Cities" by Shannon Messenger was recommended to me and I love it! The plot, characters, and the way it flows all makes the book a 100/100. Twelve year old Sophie Foster is suddenly taken from her world by a boy who explains to her how she is different and claims she can change the world. Leaving the people who raised her was difficult, but after meeting people and gaining new relationships, Sophie realizes that she would do anything to save her friends and family. Along the way, Sophie hopes to find out who and what she really is.

Reviewer's Name: Kate S.
Awards:
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee creates a creative look on segregation in life in the 1930's. As the story goes along, Scout and her brother Jem experience many changes throughout the summer of 1935. Their father, Atticus Finch, defends a black man after the man was accused of an unsolved crime. The event creates much thought and debate on the subject of segregation. The book has many great turns and the potential of characters was used to a full extent. I highly recommend the read for it will give readers an excellent idea of how life was those many years ago.

Reviewer's Name: Kate
Sal and Gabi Break The Universe
Hernandez, Carlos
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Welcome to ‘Sal and Gabi Break the Universe’, a book that will take you on an awesome universe-tearing adventure! This book will show the life of a middle-school magician, named Sal. I especially loved this book because of the time put into the descriptions of the magic tricks. Another thing that makes this book shine is the humor. There was enough humor in this book to keep me laughing the whole time I read it. This book is high up on my book list. I would suggest this to anyone, and I mean anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Cry, the Beloved Country
Paton, Alan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Cry, the beloved country

Reviewer's Name: Mantombi
Awards:
The City of Ember
DuPrau, Jeanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about Ember, a post-apocalyptic city that is built underground to save the human species. Lina Mayfleet, and her best friend, Doon Harrow try to follow a set of clues left behind by the creators of the City of Ember, known as the builders, to get to the real outside world, where nobody dares to go.

But now they must go outside as the 2 centuries of rations of food and water that lasted an extra 40 years, are now coming to an end. But after many generations of living in the enclosed, walled city, nobody knows how to get to the outside world.

Lina and Doon find a box that has the instructions of how to get out of Ember, but Lina’s baby sister, Poppy makes it hard on them. She makes sure that Lina and Doon solve a puzzle because the pieces of paper have been torn, ripped, and eaten by Poppy.

Another challenge the Lina and Doon face is terminology. Because the letter on how to get out is now some 240 years old, the terminology has changed, it has words that are familiar to us like ‘boat’ or ‘candle’, but not familiar with the people of Ember. Lina and Doon figure out what these words mean to solve the already torn up piece of paper.

This book definitely keeps you wondering about the past and the future, and with many intriguing parts, I'm going to go with 4/5 stars for City of Ember.

Reviewer's Name: Gurman
Illusion
Kenyon, Sherrilyn
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Nick's life can't get any worse. Besides the fact that he's the son of a demon destined to destroy the world, he's also wanted by every supernatural being one can think of. This time, his soul has been separated from his body and thrown into a different dimension, and if Nick doesn't find a way to get back to his original realm and body, his army of demons are going to destroy the world...with or without him.

This book is the fifth book in an eight-book series, and honestly, it's my least favorite thus far. The plot is less fantastical and more mellow, and there's a lot of new characters that are introduced that makes it a little hard to follow. Otherwise, I still enjoyed it. As always, Nick is hilarious and as charismatic as a demon can get, and we get a glimpse into his more complicated relationships (his relationship with his father for example). I believe most importantly, the book showed Nick's more vulnerable side than the preceding books in the series. Now that he's inherited all his powers, I'm excited to see how life turns out in the Nick universe throughout the last three books!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Call Me By Your Name
Aciman, Andre
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Elio is an American-Italian Jewish seventeen-year-old living in 1980s Italy. Every summer, his father hosts an overseas guest to help with his books. And every summer, Elio pays little attention to the guests; until he meets Oliver, a charismatic, charming Jewish-American. During those few, precious weeks, Elio experiences a romance that lifts him above the clouds and anchors him in the sea all at once.

Above all, I loved the setting of the novel. I felt like I was in 1980s Italy with each reference to Italian culture and language. Elio, being an intellectual, describes the love between him and Oliver so profoundly it seems to become the perfect love story. Elio is funny, shy, smart, and romantic, and Oliver is his perfect foil. The book is a relatively short read (when compared to other novels), but there's so much detail in every sentence that it felt like I'd gone through an entire journey that had, ironically, ended too quickly.

The ending wasn't the happiest, but I still liked it. I like the questions left: What happens with Oliver and Elio? What happened to Elio's father? I'm ecstatic to read the sequel and have these questions answered.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Awards:
Genres:
AP U.S. History Prep Plus 2020 & 2021
Kaplan Publishing
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I knew that AP US history would be a difficult class with lots of information. Since the beginning of the school year, I've been trying various resources to see which will prepare me the most for the APUSH exam. From browsing YouTube channels to finding online practice tests, I haven't found a resource as valuable as this book. Another helpful piece to this resource is that, with the book, you can access the online website. On the website there are even more quizzes over the various units. I am so glad I found this resource and I am certain it will help me a lot when it comes time for the big test! I strongly recommend. Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P.
Genres:
The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women
Koehler-Pentacoff, Elizabeth
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Tragedy ran deep in the Kennedy family--so much so that some people even questioned if the family was cursed. Rosemary Kennedy was born in 1918. At the time of her birth, the hospital was overcrowded with victims of the Spanish flu. The nurse, who though perfectly capable in assisting Mrs. Kennedy to give birth, urged her to wait until the doctor could come. The baby, Rosemary Kennedy, was forced back inside her mother's birth canal for two hours by the nurse during the wait. This irregular birth led to lifetime consequences in Rosemary. She had learning disabilities. Despite this, she was pushed equally as hard by her parents. Rosemary never made it intellectually past the fifth grade level. Her condition affected the Kennedy family because at the time people with disabilities were seen as having a "bad gene" and were not even allowed to receive the sacraments or eucharist at the catholic church. As Rosemary's condition worsened, her parents were desperate to fix her before she "ruined" her brother JFK's political career. This story is unique because it sheds light on a member of the Kennedy family whose tragic story eventually brought positive change in how to deal with the disabled.

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth
Awards:
Blood of Elves
Sapkowski, Andrzej
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I’ll admit that I had a bit of a head start understanding the Witcher universe when I picked up this book. I’ve played a few hours of The Witcher 3 on my Switch, and I watched the first season of the show on Netflix. Would the lack of this prior knowledge have hurt my chances of understanding this high fantasy? Not likely. Arranged as a series of vignettes, Blood of Elves reveals its characters and setting based on a collection of almost everyday scenarios. While this approach made understanding the overarching goal of the series difficult to discern, it did make the characters quite a bit more realistic and relatable.

When it comes down to it, this book is about its characters. Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer all stood out to me as unique and well-rounded individuals who each had their own stories to tell and plotlines to follow. And while their interactions are all intertwined in some way, their individual journeys allow them to shine in their own way. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed listening to this audiobook: it wasn’t so focused on building the world where these characters lived (like most Tolkein-esque high fantasy). Instead, this book made sure I understood who these characters were and what challenges they have faced and will face in the future.

Two scenes/stories stood out to me in this book that I feel need special praise. First, I have never before read a book that had an entire fight/training sequence performed exclusively in dialogue. There were no character actions other than what was described through what the individuals said to each other. To be able to do this so well is an achievement in writing in and of itself. Secondly, I found the story where Geralt meets a monster “expert” to be incredibly humorous. This bit of levity helped to keep the book from getting too dark and morose, which was welcome considering some of its content.

A fantastic character-based high fantasy, I give Blood of Elves 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
Genres:
Ringworld
Niven, Larry
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

It can be difficult to judge a book, especially one as critically acclaimed as Ringworld, with 50 years of scientific and societal progress between when it was written and today. On the one hand, there are many scientific concepts explored in this book that we almost take for granted in modern sci-fi. On the other hand, the stink of 1970s misogyny doesn’t age very well, and this book is a prime example. Even today, sci-fi authors are still trying to dig out from the sexist tropes that books like this perpetuated throughout the genre. It’s a complicated, uphill battle, but we’re trying to be better than this.

For 1970, I do have to admit that the science presented here is relatively revolutionary. Unfortunately, the descriptions were occasionally a bit dry and felt more like reading a textbook than a sci-fi adventure. I could appreciate how Niven described the indescribable scale of something as massive as the Ringworld. Additionally, the alien races were well-rounded and had complex physiologies and backstories that made the group dynamic entertaining to read. However, the only thing well-rounded about the women in this book were their bodies.

Aside from the considerable age difference between the two romantic leads being an acceptance of pedophilia, it’s clear that Niven only thought of women as objects. This is disappointing because the story could have been more interesting if the female characters had any agency other than being driven by pleasure or luck. I have to recognize that this book is still a snapshot of its temporal circumstances, but that doesn’t necessarily excuse it in today’s society. Acknowledging that it’s from the 1970s, modern works should be more aware of these flaws when using such a pivotal science fiction book as a base for today’s books.

Some great science with not-so-great misogyny, I give Ringworld 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Full Moon: A Novel of the Dresden Files
Butcher, Jim
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I haven’t read a lot of the urban fantasy genre, but series like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files is what I’ve come to expect. There’s a certain amount of logic that goes into combining fantasy elements into modern settings, and—if done well—can bring a story to life. Fool Moon (a delicious play on words, if I do say so myself) continues to take the noir twist from Storm Front and applies Harry Dresden’s magical skills against werewolf foes. Perhaps Storm Front wowed me with the concept of a detective magician so much that I thought Fool Moon was slightly weaker in comparison.

For starters, I felt there were too many factions to keep track of in this book. Half the time, I was trying to remember if the werewolves in question were the good guys or the bad guys. Granted, the ambiguity of the factions’ intent helped drive the plot, but they all felt so similar that I had difficulty telling them apart from each other. I was also somewhat confused with what was happening in the climactic battle, even if it eventually made sense. Additionally, there was a scene in this book that basically forced Dresden to make some obvious connections without it having to come quite as naturally as I would have liked.

All this being said, I did appreciate how the story integrated most of the common lore surrounding werewolves. Nothing was entirely cliché, but it was comforting to be able to see how certain well-known elements of how werewolves work helped to maintain the fantasy continuity. If specific topics like werewolves were handled this well by Butcher, I cannot wait to see how other fantasy elements are seamlessly integrated into this alternate Chicago.

An excellent fusion of fantasy and modern setting with a few weaknesses, I give Fool Moon 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Brave New World
Huxley, Aldous
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Brave New World, written by Aldous Huxley, is a personal interpretation of society’s attitude towards technology. It takes place in a future, either dystopian or utopian, where technology reigns supreme, and humans are created in a lab. It offers commentary on where humanity’s values are placed, and where they should be placed. The characters have to choose whether or not conformity is the best option, and whether numbing the pain is better than understanding the suffering. Written in the 1930s, Huxley has a surprisingly modern style and understanding, and knowing that he was unsure of the future makes it an even more exciting book.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi

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