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All Book Reviews

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.
children of eden
Graceffa, Joey
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Joey Graceffa's book, Children of Eden, tells a beauty story of love and wonder. Eden, an artificial "paradise" created after the eco-fail, has a population control of only two kids. Unfortunately for Rowan, she is classified as a second child. She is not allowed outside of her cottage in one of the inner rings of Eden. One night, she is angry with her brother, Ash, for not remembering what Lark, Ash's crush who Rowan knows like a best friend although she's never met her, was wearing that day. In result, she climbs the stone wall isolating her from Eden, and into a world of fascination.

I honestly fell in complete love with this book and read it in 2 hours. You won't be able to put it down! For all the sci-fi readers out there, here's a good one for you!

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Kristin V.
Caraval
Garber, Stephanie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Scarlett Dragna's impending marriage to a total stranger is her only hope. It'll get her away from her abusive father and allow her to save her younger sister. Her one regret is that she'll never have the opportunity to participate in Caraval - a traveling carnival/magic circus that patrons play like a game. She's written annual letters to Legend, the man in charge of Caraval. He's never responded. Until this year, when he replies to her request with a pair of tickets for this year's game. After a series of escalating events, Scarlett finds herself enmeshed in the strange game of Caraval, where nothing and no one are what they seem, and where one's thoughts, senses and "friends" are not to be trusted.

Most of the blurbs I've seen make this book seem similar to The Night Circus, but really all it has in common with that book is a ton of magical imagery and the concept of a travelling circus cloaked in mystery. Caraval is more like an extremely watered down version of The Magus by John Fowles. As I (unpopular opinion time) thought the Night Circus was only just ok, this was actually a plus for me as The Magus is a book that I LOVED. Unfortunately, however, the promise of Caraval's premise was never fully realized as the author got in her own way a lot. First, Scarlett has this weird power to see emotions as colors. I'm not sure why, as this never really went anywhere in terms of the character or plot. It does, however, give the author an opportunity to flex her purple muscles - the prose was not doing this book any favors. I skimmed a ton as the writing was overwrought. The characters were pretty bland - I can tell you that Scarlett loves her sister, is scared of her father, and has been obsessed with the Caraval since she was a child. That's about it. Scarlett falls into instalove, which has never not been annoying. The other major downside for me was that the premise had a ton of unrealized potential. Garber could have done a lot with unreliable narrators (remember, the concept is that once in the game, you can trust no one/nothing), or the mystery and atmosphere of the circus. There's relatively little chicanery. I'm hoping for more of...basically everything in the sequel.

Despite the lackluster characters and questionable writing, I found myself getting swept up in the story. Myriad problems notwithstanding, I liked it! I'll definitely check out the sequel, and I can see a lot of teens really loving this one. 3 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Book Review: The Wisdom of the Crows and Other Buddhist Tales
Kohn, Sherab Chödzin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A great book for reading on break or at lunch. The tales are interesting and amusing. Some were more obviously lessons while others just seemed to be stories. Thumbs up!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Art of the Pie : A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life
McDermott, Kate
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I don't like pie, but every so often I take a few bites just to see what the fuss is all about. Now that I eat gluten-free, I'm rarely pie curious. When I saw the title of the latest ebook Big Library Read, Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott I wasn't the least bit tempted until I read the subtitle, A practical guide to homemade crusts, fillings and Life. Intrigued by the pie/life connection, I clicked the download button.

Even in electronic form this book is beautiful. The photography is stunning, and let's face it, pies can be pretty. The book is in story format, not page after page of (boring) recipes. It is clear that Kate McDermott has mastered the pie art, and she explains every detail with engaging narrative. I didn't actually commit to the book until McDermott admitted that she was now gluten-free too. Her pie making changed from gluten-full (her term) to gluten-free. That gave me hope gluten-free baking might eventually transcend bitter bean flour, tasteless rice cookies and hard slab pizza crust.

I enjoyed McDermott's stories about her journey as a pie maker, especially her tales of woe about awful school lunches, her red-plaid metal lunch box, and scary lunch ladies. I chose to read Art of the Pie on a whim, and I'm glad I did. It's a gentle read that almost inspired me to learn the art of gluten-free pie making.

Reviewer's Name: Susan
Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen
Gilmore, Susan
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I could take or leave this book. I finished it at least. It was so slow paced and so obviously Southern that I just found myself annoyed by it. I wish it had been more lighthearted and catchy, as the title implied, but no luck.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
cress
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The third book to the Lunar Chronicles is long, but totally worth reading!
This book takes Rapunzel and twists it in with the Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella from the first two books. There is tons of action in this novel and a whole lot of planning. They still have to stop Kai's wedding and the risks they are willing to take to get there make the whole book one riveting adventure! I loved it so much and can't wait to read it again! If you enjoyed Meyer's first two books then you'll absolutely fall in love with this one.

Reviewer's Name: Marina G.
scarlet
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book takes Little Red Riding Hood and twists it with a unique Cinderella story. It's a bit confusing at first they way it jumps around between characters, but once you get the hang of it, its hard to put the book down!
There is plenty of action and just enough romance that nobody can resist. I have read this book several times and I still never get bored of it! There is so much information that you discover in this book after reading Cinder, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles, that reading this one is a must!!
Review Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Marina G.
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I have read this book multiple times and it never gets old! There are plenty of Cinderella stories out there, but do they have Lunar cyborgs who can manipulate your thoughts at the drop of a hat? Do they have flying cars and a deadly virus set out on killing every human that contracted it? Cinder is a riveting and unique tale that Meyers wrote incredibly well! She managed to take an ordinary story and turn it into something so unique and amazing. I would 100% recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy!

Reviewer's Name: Marina G.
Batman: The Long Halloween
Loeb, Jeph.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Batman: The Long Halloween is a New York Times Best-Selling Classic written and drawn by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. This story is one of the best Batman stories, it will keep you reading with cliffhangers at the end of every chapter. Batman: The Long Halloween tells the story of Batman’s fight against a serial killer named “Holiday.” This enemy kills mostly members of the Falcone family, a wealthy family led by a crimelord trying to hold on to a crumbling empire. The Holiday Killer commits his crimes on every holiday, starting on Halloween and ending on Halloween a year later. The book is action packed, the art is great, and the story is a classic and must read for any Batman fan.

Reviewer's Name: Mason H.
Awards:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Alexie, Sherman
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a book that was assigned for my literature class, meaning I had low expectations and thought I would hate the book. However, the opposite was true, and the author actually uses a humorous outlook to portray a witty teenage character in this novel. The book follows one school year in the life of Junior, a fourteen-year-old boy living with his family on the Spokane Indian Reservation near Wellpinit, Washington.

It is told in a diary style, moving from the start of the school year, through the major holidays, and ending with the beginning of summer. It includes both Junior's written record of his life and his cartoon drawings, some of them comically commenting on his situations, and others more seriously depicting important people in his life. The story, as a whole, is entertaining, funny, and is still able to discuss darker issues such as abuse, alcoholism, and poverty. Overall, I thought this novel was fantastic, and was an easy and casual read. I would recommend this book to practically anyone looking for a fun, entertaining story.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Alex K.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling is one of the most exciting and immersive books I've read. Every page has something to offer and the climax is a fantastic way to end the Harry Potter series. It perfectly answers every question from the beginning, and the ending is phenomenal. The book tells the story in a way that is more detailed than the movies, and is the perfect accompaniment. The descriptive battles and challenges the characters face make this book an epic fantasy and a must-read for everyone.

I recommend this book along with the whole Harry Potter series to any reader.

The whole franchise from the books to the movies appeals to both adults and young readers, and is one of the best fantasy stories ever.

Grade:7

Reviewer's Name: Mason H.
Ethan Frome
Wharton, Edith
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton is a tragic love story between a poor miller with an ailing wife and his wife's cousin. Ethan Frome was a poor sawmill owner who got the mill from his father after he and his mother died.
While his parents were on their death bed a girl named Zeena came to help take care of them while Ethan ran the mill. Zeena caught his parents sickness and also fell ill. Ethan did not abandon her, instead, he married her. Not long after their marriage Mattie, Zeena's cousin, came to stay with them after her father death. Mattie and Ethan fell in love though they could not be together because of Zeena. Will Ethan and Mattie ever be together?

I would rate this book a 4 out of 5 because it is a extremely well written classic, though it is kind of slow and very depressing. I would recommend this book to people who like classic romance novels. Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
Genres:
the tyrant's daughter
Carleson, J. C.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

The Tyrant’s Daughter, written by J. C. Carleson, is a novel about a girl named Laila, who is uprooted from her home and moved to the United States after her father’s death. She soon realizes her mother is full of secrets, and is told by classmates at school that her father was a tyrant in her home country. This was news to Laila who then does more research on her father and finds out shocking facts about the man she thought she knew. Her mother is working with what she has been told is a CIA agent, and had another family from their country that Laila’s mother worked with as well. Throughout all of this happening, there is a love interest named Ian introduced earlier in the novel. In parts of the book, the novel got too descriptive in a way that makes readers uncomfortable. Overall, the book is okay, but should not be read by anyone under the age of at least 13. If very detailed make out scenes and high school dance scenes make you uncomfortable, I would not recommend this book, or just skip those chapters. Additionally, the author does not effectively merge ideas and events together, leading to a choppy and disappointing story.

Reviewer's Name: Alex K.
Awards:
Genres:
Batman: A Death in the Family
Starlin, Jim
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Batman: A Death In The Family is a graphic novel written by authors and artists Jim Starlin, Marv Wolfman, and many others. Batman: A Death In The Family is an insightful, action packed read, with a story that has become a groundbreaking classic in the vast history of Batman.
Batman and and his sidekick Jason Todd are doing their duty to their city and fighting crime to protect others, but Batman comes to notice that Robin has become reckless, with not a care about killing. Due to his behavior, Batman puts Jason off duty. On a quest to find his mother in the meantime, Robin crosses paths with Batman, who is in the same location, but for a different purpose. Together they help each other with their missions, but it all comes at a cost in an action packed ending that leaves Batman with a burden on his shoulders that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Batman: A Death In The Family kept me reading for hours. The pages are packed with dialogue and action, but the story seems to take its time. The writting and art are brilliany and the twists and challenges Batman face are sure to make you confused in the start, but it all makes sense in the end.
The first and main section of the book is both sorrowful, yet some parts can make you laugh, and the after story provides a change of voice in the book.
This story is a must-read for Batman fans and a great addition to any collection or book shelf. I am glad a read it and I am excited to read the next chapter in the story of Batman.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Mason H.
Grand Guignol Orchestra Vol. 1
Yuki, Kaori
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Volume one of the Grand Guignol Orchestra was a wild ride. Set in a world where people have begun to be transformed into monstrously possessed doll creature called Guignols, the Unofficial Royal Orchestra travels to allegedly only bring relief to the remaining civilians by performing for them, but they do so much more. The story begins when the Orchestra comes to a town where there are no children besides the crippled young earl, the son of the man who hired the musicians.

I loved this manga because it was a taste of an idea renowned into something new. The character development was so slight, and yet I felt as if I'd known the Orchestra for years. There was an excellent balance of adventure, fear, and comedy implemented into the story, and the only reason I do not rate Grand Guignol Orchestra a 5/5 is because I've only gotten to experience one novel so far. This is an incredible manga for those wanting something frightening and tense, but desiring strong characters as well as a great story.

Reviewer's Name: Julia I. R. H.
the heir
Cass, Kiera
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I had high hopes for The Heir, as it is the fourth book in the selection series; this book, however, did not live up to my expectations. In the book, Princess Eadlyn, the main character, is just about to start her selection.
Even though Eadlyn has no desire to get married, she is participating in the selection to make her father, King Maxon, happy. I disliked the main character Eadlyn, because I found her tiresome and annoying. Also, I found the plot lacking action. The Heir, unlike the other books in this series, has no antagonist. To me, this book felt very similar to the earlier books of this series with the action and fantastic characters cut out. Although I did enjoy reading about the end of Maxon and America’s story, I would not recommend this book to most readers of The Selection series.

Reviewer's Name: Hailey K.
Genres:
before I fall by Lauren Oliver
Oliver, Lauren
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Until, Friday, February 12, Samantha Kingston has a perfect life; she has great friends, a hot boyfriend, and is one of the most popular girls in her school. She never thought that February 12 would be her last day, but it is.
However, she gets a another chance at a last day. For one week, Samantha relives her last day, trying to right the wrongs of her past. In that week, she realizes what really caused her death, and the true value of her life.
This book is a really good read. The characters are surprisingly human, and the issues that Samantha struggles with are unusually real. I loved how my opinion of Samantha could developed throughout the story. I enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to people that like realistic fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Hailey K.
everlost by neal shusterman
Shusterman, Neal
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Over the past year or so, Neal Shusterman has quickly become one of my favorite authors, which can probably be attributed to this fantastic novel.

Everlost is the first of three novels, which follows the story of two teenage characters, Nick and Allie, who have just awoken in a ghostly parallel to the real world after drying in a car crash. They are somewhat like ghosts, and retain the exact appearance they had when they died. The book follows these characters as they traverse through this ghostly world, and try to find their purpose among the other dead children, known as the "afterlights". Along the way, these two characters encounter many lifelike characters, and Neal Shusterman is able to effectively depict each event with imagery and descriptive language. I found myself actually excited to read the next chapter, which is coming from someone who is not typically an enthusiastic reader. Therefore, I would recommend this book to anyone who has spare time and is willing to delve themselves into a truly great book.

Reviewer is in grade 11.

Reviewer's Name: Alex K.
Awards:
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:

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