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All Book Reviews

Book Review: The Great Gilly Hopkins
Paterson, Katherine
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Very good, as all Katherine Paterson novels are. A quick read, and like her other novels, it shows rather than tells. My only problem with the book was the ending was too abrupt for my taste. I would have liked for it to be longer and show her life with her grandmother and the effects of Courtney's visit.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: Bellweather Rhapsody
Racculia, Kate
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Brimming with snappy dialogue, mistaken identity, and lots of musical references, "Bellweather Rhapsody" is a raucous read. The book takes place at a high school music festival so its full of hilarious yet relatable high school drama and hijinks. When a high school flute prodigy goes missing and the festival participants get snowed in at the Bellweather Hotel, the festival gets even more chaotic. The book does have some dark elements - there's a fair amount of murder. For fans of dark comedies like "Big Little Lies".

Reviewer's Name: Corrie
Awards:
Genres:
Morning Star
Brown, Pierce
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Action-packed and heartbreaking, Red Rising has no doubt become one of my favorite series of all time. Morning Star is a powerful conclusion to a thrilling series that left me satisfied with how the story concluded. There are many points where I just want to stop and write down all the quotes I love in the book. Pierce Brown writes beautifully and he did every justice to Morning Star. Since it's a sequel and the final book to a trilogy, I won't say much about what happen in case someone new to the series happens to stumble on this review. If you are new, what you need to know about Red Rising is that it's a sci-fi fantasy that borrows elements from mythologies. Red Rising is a phenomenal series and I hope that more people would pick up and give this book a try.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Vy D.
Golden Son
Brown, Pierce
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book left me speechless so many times, shocked by the brutality that brought upon hopes and dreams for a race of the oppressed. War is ugly, yet Pierce Brown paints art and beauty to every word written in this book. There wasn't a moment that bore me. My heart broke many times for the characters in the book, for Darrow, for the young innocent boy he once was and the death stained Reaper he has become. We witnessed the rise of the Reaper in Red Rising and his fall in Golden Son. This is one of the best book I've read so far this year, possibly one of my all-time favorite book. I definitely highly recommend anyone who has already read Red Rising to continue with this book. For anyone who have not read or heard of the series: please pick it up. It is very much worth your time.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Vy D.
Vicious
Schwab, Victoria
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 4.5

If you love anti-hero, this book is for you. Vicious follows the stories of Victor and Eli, a pair of brilliant, arrogant yet lonely college roommates who share ambition and interest in EO, ExtraOrdinary human being with unnatural superbeing abilities. Vicious blurred the line between heroism and villainy, a moral gray area we often find ourselves standing in. From roommates to enemies, Victor and Eli engaged in a game of cat and mouse that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the book. It was a very thrilling and exciting read and I can't wait for the next book in the series.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Vy D.
Awards:
Book Review: American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History
Kyle, Chris
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Anyone who knows me may realize that this is not my normal topic of interest. However, I do enjoying reading about different perspectives and life experiences from mine. That said, Chris Kyle and I have almost nothing in common as far as beliefs and interests go, but we do have love for country and loyalty to friends and family in common. Of course, he's about as tough as they come. Way tougher than me. I'm sure I would not have been able to do what he did even if I had wanted to. However, I found as I was reading this book that Kyle had a lot of interesting observations about the Iraq War from a front lines perspective. The stories were intense and engaging. I didn't get into the weapons geekery at all, but I'm guessing his target (har!) audience did. Really, a very good book about the front lines experience of a Navy SEAL.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: Lock and Key
Dessen, Sarah
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I'm not a teen, so I'm obviously not the target audience. The first half of this book was very good and even made me cry. The fact that Ruby's sister was so brave and protected her in her quiet way was very powerful. I loved how her experience protecting Ruby shaped her career and life's purpose. However, once the book got beyond that point it devolved into the naval gazing so common in teen fiction. Too much introspection and obvious symbolism explained by the narrator made for a tedious second half. If the author could have kept up the power of the first half, this would be a 5 star review.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
Genres:
Book Review: Being Mortal
Gawande, Atul
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was a very hard read for me. Not because of the writing, but because of the subject matter. I had just placed my father and his wife into a continuing care community when my book club chose this book. The stories of lost independence and the price of safety on quality of life hit me hard. After they moved in my dad went straight to Memory Care. His freedom is gone and he feels it keenly. It's true that he's safe, but I feel like I had a hand in ending his freedom. Of course in my head I know this isn't true, the circumstances were - and still are - way beyond my control, but still.

The takeaway from this book is to communicate clearly with your loved ones what you want as an end-of-life plan. Also, it's important to take an active role in choosing help and help communities. Finally, hospice is a far more humane way to treat the end-of-life experience than heroic measures and ICU. Quality of life is the most important thing and this is defined on a individual basis.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Hurston, Zora Neale
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 4.5

When I first saw the cover and title of this book, I was intrigued. The title of this novel does not reveal much about what the plot was all "about". The main character of the book, Janie, is a woman of mixed race who is trying to find her happiness, which she believes is love. Hurston writes this novel in a way that the readers too, can feel what Janie is feeling, and see what Janie is seeing. Even though this book was written in the 1930's, the topics that pop up are still relevant today, including Feminism. This book may have been predictable at certain times, it was surprising as well. I have never read a novel like this one before. I encourage others to read this book, so they too can experience the journey of Janie's coming of age.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Jessica J.
The Tempest
Shakespeare, William
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

When assigned this novel for school, I did not expect much to be completely honest. In fact, the story of The Tempest was actually a pleasant surprise. The story is about Prospero, a man looking for revenge against the one person who took his Dukedom away from him, his brother Antonio. At the beginning, the story moves a bit slow and can be a bit boring. Although, it does not take too long for Shakespeare to interest the reader with the plot of the novel. I did not find the story to be predictable, which is what made it so interesting! A theme that the story revolves around was Compassion VS Cruelty, making The Tempest very interesting and intriguing. The language of Shakespeare may be difficult to understand, but is not too difficult. Although, it would be useful to choose a version of The Tempest that has annotations/footnotes as there are various terms and mythological references that some people may not understand or know.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Jessica J.
Genres:
The Sound of Waves
Mishima, Yukio
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The reason why I picked this novel was because of the cover I had. It was unique and in my opinion, very pretty. Also, if you skim through the book, each chapter has a simple illustration which is quite interesting. However, I found the book to be mediocre. This book takes place on a made up island nearby the city of Tokyo. The main character Shinji, is a hardworking boy who partakes in the fishing business on this small island. He soon meets a girl by the name of Hatsue, and their story begins...This book did not surprise me at all, but it was cute. Mishima touches base on the idea of coming of age and love, and wrote it all beautifully. Mishima's style is full of imagery and is what really makes this novel different.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Jessica J.
Genres:
Fathers and Children
Turgenev, Ivan Sergeevich
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

To be completely honest, Fathers and Children by Ivan Turgenev did not appeal to me when I first saw. However, that changed when I began to read it. This book takes place in Russia around the mid 1800's. For a translated work, this novel was quite intriguing. The book not only speaks of the generation gap between parents and children, but also talks about the coming of age. In Fathers and Children, the reader gets the chance to see various characters find their way through love, social revolution, and coming of age. Despite how old this story is, several of the topics [coming of age] that it discusses still applies to teenagers today. This novel surprised me in the way, as the one person who you may expect to be the antagonist of the story, is actually the protagonist...If you are looking for a bit more of a challenging read, this is the book for you.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Jessica J.
Genres:
Rise of the Evening Star
Mull, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about another adventure of two siblings in Fablehaven. New events happen, which keeps the reader in suspense and on the edge of his/her seat. I liked this book because it perfectly sequences the first book of this series. I picked this book because the first book of this series was very good. I enjoyed the amplified suspense in this book. I did not enjoy the shortage of action in this fictional book. This book surprised me around every corner, I could not predict what would happen next. I can relate to the two main characters because I love animals of all kinds. This is one of the best books I have read all year!

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Alex L.
Genres:
Fablehaven
Mull, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about two siblings who are sent to live with their grandpa over the summer. When in his house they find a new land full of mysterious creatures. I liked this book because it had a lot of action and was adventurous. I picked this book because it was recommended by one of my teachers. I enjoyed the mystical creatures found around every corner of this book. I did not enjoy that the creatures were sometimes not described. This book was suspenseful and surprising. I can relate to the two main characters because I have been sent to live with my grandparents over break, and I had a great time. This is one of the best books I have read all year!

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Alex L.
Genres:
Reached
Condie, Allyson Braithwaite
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When Cassia and Ky finally find each other, they lose each other yet again. Cassia works for the Rising from within the Society, while Ky works for them from outside the borders. Nothing goes as planned, though, as the veil lifts and things shift once again.

This is definitely one of the best books that I've read in a while. It tied up the trilogy quite nicely. I've read so many great series with terrible endings, but this was not one of them. The entire book kept me captivated until the very last second.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
The Candymakers
Mass, Wendy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about a group of children who specialize in candy making. After all, it is expected, since they are the legacies of famous candy inventors. I picked this book because very many people in my grade have read it and liked it. I enjoyed the imagery in this book. I did not enjoy that the suspense was not very exciting. This book both surprised me and was predictable. I can relate to some of the characters because I like other people. This is one of the best books I have read all year!

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Alex L.
Awards:
Genres:
The Old Man and the Sea
Hemingway, Ernest
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about an old man who is having bad luck in catching fish. One day he goes fishing in the early morning and has the experience of a lifetime. I liked this book because it showed that the journey is more important than the destination. I chose this book because it seemed very meaningful. I enjoyed that very many idle objects represented important concepts. I did not enjoy that the book is so predictable. I cannot relate to the characters because they were very thoughtful and knew what life means. This is not one of the best books I have read all year.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Alex L.
Awards:
Genres:
Peak
Smith, Roland
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 3.5

This book is about a teenage boy who tries to become the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest, while doing so he finds his true self. I liked this book because it demonstrates the problem teenagers have growing up. I picked this book because it was recommended by a friend with similar literature interests. I enjoyed that this book shows that even the worst people of this world still do the right thing. I did not enjoy that the book could be very repetitive. This book was sometimes predictable, which made it less interesting. I cannot relate to these characters because they were too complex. This is not one of the best books I have read this year.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Alex L.
Genres:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Rowling, J. K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is the sixth book in the series, and it happens to be my favorite. It's not nearly as long as The Order of the Phoenix, but it's still a fair bit thicker than the first three books. The length of the novel isn't necessarily a bad thing because it keeps the plot moving along. The best part of this book is the character development. For most of the plot, Harry is actually happy and with his friends, so many characters gain a level of complexity. This is the darkest book yet chronologically, but through themes of hope and witty dialogue it recaptures the beautiful lighthearted magic of the first few books.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Caroline J.
Cosmic
Cottrell Boyce, Frank
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is about a teenage boy who abnormally the size of an adult. Many mistake him as an adult when truly he is not. I liked this book because it connected my love of astronomy with my love of action in books. I picked this book because it is full of action and comedy. I enjoyed that so much action and comedy could be compacted into a truly meaningful book. I cannot find anything that I did not enjoy!! This book was both surprising and predictable at times. This is the best book I have read all year!

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Alex L.

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