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All Book Reviews by Genre: Realistic

bitter end
Brown, Jennifer
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Although Alex has two amazing friends, Bethany and Zach, she has always felt rather alone, that is until she met Cole. Cole is new at school, and seems perfect. He is a funny, star athlete, and very attractive, so Alex believes he is way out of her league. When she starts tutoring him, however, sparks begin to fly. Cole asks her out, and at first, it seems like destiny to Alex.

He is sweet to her, and she starts to fall for him. There is one problem
though: Cole is very jealous of her friend Zach; he hates it when they hang out and gets angry with both Alex and Zach. He begins to take out all of his frustrations on Alex, and it quickly escalates from put-downs to violence.
Bitter End is a heart wrenching that takes a candid look at domestic violence. I think this book is amazingly written, and I would recommend it to most people. Be warned though that this book is hard to get through. Because Alex is so innocent and good, it is easy to empathize with her. And even though what Cole is doing is wrong, he seems like a real person. Brown did a great job creating human characters that you can completely empathize with.

Reviewer's Name: Hailey K.
Genres:
I Have A Bad Feeling About This
Strand, Jeff
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In I Have A Bad Feeling About This by Jeff Strand, Henry, a 17 year old boy, is sent to a survival camp by his parents because they think he's a wuss, and to be honest he is kinda wussy. But this camp is not what it seems. I really like how embarrassing Henry was, I could definitely relate. I didn't like that the book was dragged on, it took a few chapters to get to the really good action. I picked this book because it's title was intriguing to me and made me want to find out what happened. This book was extremely surprising and made me have to do a double take. I could relate to all the wimpy kids who were sent to the survival camp because let's be honest I can't throw a ball five feet. This was not the best book I have read this year but if someone asked for a good book recommendation I would totally recommend this.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gemini K.
Scars
Rainfield, Cheryl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In Scars by Cheryl Rainfield, Kendra, a young teenager, struggles with self-harm, depression, and having the constant fear of her rapist following and threatening her. All throughout the book she struggles with many things, and Rainfield describes her journey with passion and accurately describes what depression can and does feel like. I really liked that this book brought attention to in-home neglect, as her mother does not pay much attention to what is happening with her daughter more as how her daughter is being portrayed. I didn't like how fast paced everything is, although it does positively affect the book in some aspects it is a bit overwhelming in certain chapters. I picked this book because of the title and the cover, I have struggled with self-harm and it seemed like I relate to it, which I could in so many ways. This book was very surprising and it made me gasp out loud when the big truth was revealed. I could definitely relate to Kendra, as I said before I struggled with self-harm and have plenty of scars I need to heal. But not only in that way, she and I both have homophobic mothers who at first did not accept the "choices" we made. This book was really, really, great and it truly is one of the best books I have read this year.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gemini K.
Shadow
Morpurgo, Michael
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Shadow was a very good book that I thought had essentials to make into a review. Shadow was about an eight-year-old named Aman and him telling his entire story of how he met Shadow, and why he wanted to get out of Afghanistan. Taliban (people who didn't like Aman's people) invaded his part of Afghanistan, so him and his mother needed to get out of his town after his grandmother died. Right before he left, a dog he named Shadow accompanied him. Throughout their journey, they needed to walk many miles to get to Turkey, a place where an airport is. However, cruel people started robbing the family of all of their belongings, and even their grandmother's jewels she left behind just in case they lost all of their money, which they just did. Even through all of the struggles, the family still pushed on.

Eventually, Shadow gets picked up by the military, who claimed it was their dog. Aman eventually got to England. I thought that this book was good because it gave an accurate demonstration of a loving relationship between a boy and a dog.

Reviewer's Name: Logan L.
Holes
Sachar, Louis
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book Holes by Louis Sachar is an astonishing book that braids together three different stories that eventually will come together because of the main character known as Stanley Yelnats. Stanley Yelnats, a boy who has bad luck because of a curse put on his "no good dirty rotten pig stealin' great-great-grandfather", is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp, for a crime he did not commit. Stanley and the other boys at the camp are forced to dig large holes in the dirt every day that are 5 feet wide and 5 feet deep in the blistering heat, but they aren't digging holes to build character like Mr. Sir says.

Louis Sachar was born in East Meadow on March 20th 1954 and lived there until 4th grade and it wasn't until high school that he really started to love reading. Louis Sachar is an award-winning author of twenty-five books for children and young adults. The book Holes has won around 16 awards and recognitions. He didn’t really just sit down and start writing the story, he built the story around the setting at camp green lake. In a Q&A he said that he "started writing about Camp Greenlake and it developed from there. I suppose the initial inspiration for writing about the camp came from the heat of summers in Texas." And "Anybody who has ever tried to do yard work in Texas in July can easily imagine Hell to be a place where you are required to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet across day after day under the brutal Texas sun." That was where he started the book and his inspiration. Louis basically just started with writing about camp green lake and the fact that its just a desert instead of basing the book on any characters, which I found was interesting.

I think that Holes is an amazing book that it all ties together in the end. I just love this book because of how complex it is with putting three stories together to create one detailed and vivid story that you will want to read more than once.

Reviewer's Name: Sydney P.
The Memory of Light
Stork, Francisco X.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I've read many teen fiction books, but this book was by far the most honest about dealing with mental issues. There are no easy answers and it is a hard process to fight through. The main character Vicki really wants to be normal, but she is having a hard time dealing with school and her parents. She decides to commit suicide. She is discovered and rescued. She commits herself to a local mental institute to see if she can find a way to deal with her depression. Once there she meets other teens that are also dealing with difficult mental issues. Having dealt with depression in my own life it is nice to see that books are being published about mental health issues, especially books that target teens. The descriptions of how depression affect Vicky were really well done. I will say that there are some moments of teen angst, but overall the book was excellent.

Reviewer's Name: Jean
Genres:
After You
Moyes, Jojo
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It’s been 2 years since Will Traynor’s death. Louisa Clark traveled for a while, but now she is stuck in a bad job and just treading water. Even surviving a fall from the rooftop of her apartment building doesn’t shock Louisa into wanting to experience more of life. Louisa joins a support group to deal with her grief and develops a relationship with the paramedic who saved her. However, it’s the arrival of teenage girl with a link to Louisa’s past that sets her life into a spin and changes it in more ways than she could ever have imagined. After You, Jojo Moyes’ sequel to Me Before You, is a well-written, realistic look at dealing with grief and all the curves life throws at a person. Fans of the first book will feel like they are catching up with an old friend. Be prepared to cry and laugh out loud as you spend more time with this loveable character.

Reviewer's Name: Milissa
The Mortifications
Palacio, Derek
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Mortifications follows the Encarnacion family from Cuba to Connecticut and then back to Cuba again. Soledad's husband, Uxbal, is heavily involved in rebel groups resisting Castro's regime. She doesn't want her children growing up in that environment, and eventually she decides to take them and leave for America without her husband. Uxbal tries to hold her daughter Isabel captive, but she threatens to cut his son's throat if he doesn't let her take both their children. They escape successfully, but the incident leaves deep scars on everyone in the family. Soledad eventually begins a new relationship with Henri Willems, a Dutch man trying to cultivate Cuban tobacco in the US, and all the while she and her children drift further and further apart from one another as they try to adjust to their new lives.

The Mortifications is a leisurely-paced book and it draws rich portraits of all the characters: Soledad, who takes her children from Cuba to America to protect them but finds herself haunted by a lost marriage and country; Isabel, who took a vow to her father to remain chaste until she could have rebel children for his militia, and who later joins a convent in an effort to keep this vow; Ulises, a student of classical literature who feels abandoned by his mother, father, and sister alike; Willems, who is haunted by the idea that his tobacco holds the ghosts of the slaves his family once owned in Haiti; and many more minor characters who are written with equal depth and sympathy. It was a genuine pleasure to read -- beautiful writing, very introspective, and with enough humor to keep it from being too relentlessly depressing. That being said, it's a very (and I mean very) slow-paced book and is focused more on the internal lives of the characters than any cohesive plot, so that might be frustrating to readers looking for something with a little more structure. I would give it 3.5 stars, in large part because the writing was absolutely gorgeous.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
Awards:
The Dogs of Christmas
Cameron, W. Bruce
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A must read for dog lovers.

Reviewer's Name: Jeannette
Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Haddon, Mark
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One night, Christopher Boone is walking around his neighborhood when he finds his neighbor’s dog dead, in her front yard, with a pitchfork sticking out of it. Christopher is now determined to investigate and write a book about who killed the dog. Unfortunately, Mrs. Shears, the dog’s owner, accuses Christopher of killing her dog and he is sent to jail for a few hours.

Eventually, Christopher’s dad comes to get him, and tells him not to investigate the incident of the dog’s death. Keep in mind, Christopher has a disability similar to Asperger syndrome and it is somewhat omitted at the beginning, but eventually, it’s obvious he has a disability even if it's not directly mentioned in the book. Christopher defies his father’s orders and continues to investigate the dog’s death, asking neighbors about the dog, questioning Mrs. Shears. His father constantly restricts him from doing so, but Christopher is determined. As the investigation goes on Christopher is able to find out that his supposedly “dead” mother is alive and also he finds out who the killer is. Haddon’s work is amazingly written and I recommend the novel to those who enjoy subtle mysteries with rising conflicts.

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Genres:
If I Was Your Girl
Russo, Meredith
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Earlier this year, I read If I Was Your Girl, and it is one of the most timely books I have ever encountered. Meredith Russo’s tale of a young girl moving to a new town is so much more than your standard teen romance.

Amanda just moved to Lambertville, a small Tennessee town where the big events are high school football games and church socials. She’s nervous about getting a fresh start for her senior year of high school, but she quickly makes a handful of friends. However, she’s hiding two big secrets. One, she attempted suicide while she was at her old school. Two, Amanda is transgender. Amanda is not expecting to fall in love, but encountering Grant, a young man with secrets of his own, leaves them both struggling to be honest with each other.

Amanda’s parents are separated, and she moves from a larger city where she lived with her mother to a small town where her father is still coming to terms with his daughter’s identity. If I Was Your Girl tells Amanda’s story almost flawlessly, interweaving flashbacks to her old life and helping the reader understand Amanda’s reasons for transitioning and her acceptance in her new home. Meredith Russo blends some of her own life experiences into Amanda. As readers, we’re shown an incredibly deep look. We see the psychological effects, glimpses into the recovery from the surgical procedures, and her experiences with a local support group prior to the move.

As has been mentioned in many reviews of this book, If I Was Your Girl covers a fairly easy take on transition. Amanda knows from a young age who she is, and has no trouble covering the costs of hormone therapy and various surgeries while she is still young. It’s an idealized version of transition, and it is important to note that this is currently quite rare in reality (I personally was waiting for tragedy to strike throughout my read, because everything seemed to be going too well). This is also noted by the author. “I’m worried that you might take Amanda’s story as gospel, especially since it comes from a trans woman. This prospect terrifies me, actually! I am a storyteller, not an educator. I have taken liberties with what I know reality to be.” However, this does not diminish the importance of a book by a transgender author, starring a transgender character, and featuring a transgender model on the cover in a year when transphobia is at a terrifying high.

All in all, I loved this book. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Is it perfect? No. But it’s a much-needed beacon of hope in what has been a very dark year for LGBT+ folks around the country.

Reviewer's Name: Philip
Genres:
The Writing on the Wall
Lichtman, Wendy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

For my review I read Writing on the Wall byWendy Lichtman. It is about a young girl and how she uses math in life. There is a little mystery though. There was a fire in one of the class rooms and someone thinks it was Arson. Instead of telling anyone they write it in an obvious place in code. I really liked how creative the author got with this book.

Reviewer Grade:8

Reviewer's Name: Paige C.
Hatchet
Paulsen, Gary
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was very fun to read, it left you on the edge of your seat. It is a fairly short book. The story line has a fast pace. I would recommend this book to a more advanced reader. It is a riveting survival story centered in the Canadian wilderness.This book is now one of my favorites.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1)
Kinney, Jeff
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is a kid friendly and amazing book. I personally loved the series. I read this series a lot it is about a kid trying to survive middle school named Greg there are ten books in the series so far and I have read all of them. This book is great and I would recommend this book for younger readers.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
Awards:
Genres:
The Ugly Truth (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5)
Kinney, Jeff
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I really like this book. This is one of my favorites because I can relate to Gregg Heffley. Since I just started 7th grade, much of this book matches what I’m going through now. The reader will enjoy the illustrations throughout the book. You will need to read the book to find out if Gregg and Rowley are able to get their friendship back on track.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
Genres:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Lockhart, E.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book didn't go the way I expected it to. I expected a light teen fiction read, but the storyline was meatier than your normal teen novel. The pranking doesn't get started until about 2/3 of the way through. The reason why she was doing it really wasn't laid out very clearly. I think I was a little disappointed overall.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
The Trap
Smelcer, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Trap relates the story of an elderly native man named Albert Least-Weasel and his grandson, Johnny Least-Weasel. Albert is out in the Alaskan wilderness checking his traplines. When he doesn’t return on time and the temperature drops, Johnny and Albert’s wife begin to worry about the old man. Johnny believes he should go out and look for his grandfather, but others in the community advise him against this action, suggesting that his Grandfather is fine because he knows what he is doing. Johnny has mixed feelings between the advice of his elders in the community and his own instinct. The choice he makes will have a direct impact on the survival of his Grandfather.

However, The Trap is more than just a story about survival, it is also about the internal stories we tell ourselves as we face difficult situations and navigate challenges. The main characters reflect on their own story, memory and myth as they struggle through their individual conflicts. The author’s skillful use of learning tales and folklore deepens the experience of Albert and Johnny Least-Weasel while teaching the reader about being a part of the land and a culture that is defined by the world they live in. Alternating views between Johnny and his Grandfather allows the reader to experience the hardship of the Grandfather and feel the anxiety of Johnny. The Trap is a good read; I would recommend it to readers who enjoy survival and folklore.

Reviewer's Name: Monique B.
Awards:
The Last True Love Story
Kiely, Brendan
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

A Teen Book. Seventeen-year-old Hendrix is left to care for his Gpa, who is losing his memory due to Alzheimer's, in a senior facility. All his grandfather wants is to go home to Ithaca, New York, to remember his deceased wife, before he forgets her completely. Corrina, also seventeen, was adopted from Guatemala. She's a musician, feeling crowded and suffocated by circumstances in LA. One night, they decide combine forces, steal a car and Gpa and head for New York. The adventure is one of friendship, but mainly one of learning to love. Language and mature situations.

Reviewer's Name: Vickie Sherwood
The Book That Matters Most
Hood, Ann
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Adult Fiction. After twenty-five years Ava and her husband divorce. Ava joins a book group, not only because she loves to read, but also to meet new people. The first order of business is to select the twelve titles for the coming year, "the book that matters most to you." Ava didn't read the email, so the first book she thinks of is "From Clare to Here," by Rosalind Arden. This book meant so much to Ava during her childhood, when her younger sister died and her mother jumped off a bridge to her death. Meanwhile, Ava's daughter Maggie is supposed to be studying art in Florence, Italy. She follows a boy to Paris and sinks into an alcohol and drug culture. The chapters alternate between Ava's finding her way in Providence, Rhode Island and Maggie's slow climb back to sobriety. Ava promised her book group that she would invite the author of her book to their last meeting of the year. A fantastic ending!

Reviewer's Name: Vickie S.
Genres:
Tell Me Something Real
Devlin, Calla
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Teen Fiction. It's 1976. The three Babcock sisters - Adrienne, Vanessa and Marie - make regular trips from San Diego to a clinic in Mexico, where their mother receives treatments for leukemia that are banned in the United States. Chapter one ends with their mother announcing that in spite of these treatments, she has been diagnosed as terminal. The remainder of the book describes how each of the sisters reacts to this diagnosis. Then their mother agrees to invite Barb and her son Caleb, who is also undergoing treatment, to stay with them in San Diego. Things start to go wrong when Barb questions the combination of medications that Mrs. Babcock is taking. She and Caleb move to a hotel after Mrs. B becomes hysterical when a new doctor at the clinic wants to perform his own blood tests. When the ultimate betrayal is revealed, you won't believe it!!

Reviewer's Name: Vickie S.
Genres:

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