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Other Award(s)

Book Review: Number the Stars

Number the Stars
Author: 
Lowry, Lois
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This is a powerful quick read with an engaging story line. Yes, Holocaust books are a dime a dozen, but this one is on top of the heap. The location of the book in Denmark also separates it from the rest. I was struck by the idea that it's easier to be brave when you don't know more than you need to to complete a task. Well done.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner
Author: 
Dashner, James
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: 
Lee, Harper
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps

Book Review: Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps
Author: 
Warren, Andrea
Rating: 
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

Book Review: The Martian

The Martian
Author: 
Weir, Andy
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: Steelheart

Steelheart
Author: 
Sanderson, Brandon
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: Anna and the Swallow Man

Anna and the Swallow Man
Author: 
Savit, Gavriel
Rating: 
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

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Author: 
Skloot, Rebecca
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Atonement

atonement
Author: 
McEwan, Ian
Rating: 
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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