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All Book Reviews

Fitzpatrick's War
Judson, Theodore
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a steampunky, military sci-fi novel that takes place in the 25th century and chronicles the life of Sir Robert Mayfair Bruce, an military engineer working for the United Yukon Confederacy, a vast empire that controls all of North America and large parts of the rest of the world. The book is written as a historical memoir/biography that has come under scrutiny for supposedly lying about the life of one the Confederacy's greatest leaders, an Alexander the Great-like young man named Fitzpatrick who is viewed as a hero many years after the events in Robert Bruce's publication. The novel is made even more intriguing by the fact that it is "annotated" by a fictional scholar who frequently refutes the facts described by Bruce. This begs the question "Do we want the 'nice' version of history, or the truth?"

Bruce is as excellent narrator, generally engaging and observant, and it is easy to see why he is so charmed by Fitzpatrick. His motivations are clear and his interactions with other characters are authentic and believable. That said, it is occasionally annoying that he lets his love interest, Charlotte, boss him around so much, but other than that, he is likable and real. (If you like Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby, you'll probably like Bruce.) Speaking of Charlotte, I think she was one of this book's only major weaknesses. She seems unrealistically perfect -- intelligent, witty, independent, defiant, feisty, and not much else. She has an unhealthy amount of control over Bruce to the point that the reader questions his abilities as a leader since he seems to have no backbone when it comes to Charlotte's manipulation and he does everything she tells him without question, in spite of the fact that she isn't terribly likable. Fitzpatrick himself was well-done. His charismatic, megalomaniacal character develops subtly over the course of the book, and his rise and fall, involving a descent into moral depravity and possibly madness, is fascinating. Likewise, secondary characters are also well-developed.

This book moves rather slowly (the "War" of the title takes about 300 pages to begin), and occasionally the author gives excessive detail to things that don't need it while omitting other details that could have fleshed out the world, so suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy some things. Otherwise, the alternate reality is well-developed and appropriately detailed, with an intriguing history, society, and politics. If you don't like long books with minimal action, don't read this. But if you enjoy an intellectual steampunk adventure with good characters that raises interesting points concerning how history should be portrayed, I recommend trying Fitzpatrick's War.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Caroline K.
Belle Epoque
Ross, Elizabeth
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Belle Epoque is the name given to late 19th-century Western Europe, especially France. It describes a time of social and technological innovation as well as a certain level of moral depravity. As you may have discovered, it is also the title of this book. Belle Epoque is about Maude Pichon, a poor girl from provincial Brittany who comes to Paris seeking adventure, glamour and opportunity. Through a series of financial misfortunes, she is forced to become a repoussoir, a beauty foil: a physically unattractive woman who is paid very well to accompany a rich woman in order to make the client look better by comparison. Maude leads a double life, spending her days accompanying wealthy young Isabelle at dances and operas, her nights spent visiting the bohemian music halls. This life takes a severe moral toll on Maude, even as she makes more and more money. Eventually, she is forced to choose between what is easy and what is right.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were appealing and generally well-developed, although there were occasional slight inconsistencies in character behavior. Costume details are lovely, and it is easy to connect with Maude's awe and astonishment at the way her wealthy clients live. Due to the nature of the main character's occupation, topics such as physical appearance and self-worth are frequently broached. As a result, anyone who has ever felt, ugly, unloved, or simply unable to measure up will understand what Maude and the other repoussoirs feel and, like Maude, will realize how awful the repoussoir trade really is. The writing style is easy and simple, and the author manages to tackle difficult subjects like the nature of beauty without it feeling too heavy-handed, and the book itself retains a generally pleasant, light feel throughout, despite the darkness of certain moments. My only real complaint is that the chapters are often very short, only two or three pages, and as a result, the plot sometimes feels episodic and choppy. Other than that, it was great. Ultimately, it communicates an uplifting message of inner beauty, positive self-worth, and the importance of pursuing your passions and being true to yourself. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an easy, quick read that still has substance and a very satisfying ending.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Caroline K.
Genres:
Book Review: Kira-Kira
Kadohata, Cynthia
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was so beautifully written. It was sparse and clean, but so powerful. It made me cry. I highly recommend this quick read.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Where She Went
Forman, Gayle
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Where She Went is the sequel to If I Stay. It takes place 3 years later when Adam, a rising rock star, and Mia, a successful cellist, reunite in New York. The story is in Adam's point of view and follows them as they explore the city and reconnect.

I liked the story. I feel like they should've let the story end in the first book, but it wasn't bad. It was kind of fun to revisit these characters and discover what happened to them after the accident.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
Genres:
The Green Glass Sea
Klages, Ellen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This novel tells the story of two girls, Dewey and Suze, who grow up during World War II. Dewey is good at math, just like her dad, but Suze's talent for art sometimes puts her at odds with her scientist parents. Both girls' parents are working on something secret for the government called "the gadget," but that's about all they think they have in common. This novel is one of the best I've ever read. It takes turns following each girl and her life in Los Alamos. Occasionally I found myself not caring for and even disliking Suze, but eventually she makes a decision that makes her character much more likable. This is a classic coming of age story, but by taking unexpected turns it makes its message much more meaningful and heart wrenching.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Caroline J.
Awards:
Genres:
Book Review: Protecting the Gift
De Becker, Gavin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This was a very informative, and honestly slightly scary book. The takeaway is to heed your intuition and gut-feeling regarding the safety of your children. We brought Zoe to a Kidpower workshop, which was just wonderful. Zoe now has some tools to keep herself safe and I feel a bit less worried. Still worried of course, but a bit less... I definitely recommend this book to all parents, especially mothers.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
If I Stay
Forman, Gayle
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In If I Stay, seventeen-year-old Mia is in a coma after a terrible car accident that killed her parents. She must decide whether to live with her grief, or join her family in death.

I really enjoyed this book. It was sad, and the end made me a bit emotional. It seemed to focus a lot on love and music. Being a huge music fan, I really liked all of the references, but a love for music isn't necessary to enjoy this story.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
Genres:
The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 3.5

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins did not live up to the hype in my opinion. It's not that it was a bad book, it just didn't grab me as well as I expected. I might be judging it because the "outstanding" reviews but the characters seemed to grim and lifeless also super depressing I understand it's not meant to be happy but it seemed gloomy. I Didn't read the sequels because lack of interest.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Diego C.
The Outsiders
Hinton, S. E.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton is a great read. I love the main character pony boy and his brothers each character that he encounters seems to have a story. Each character both main and minor have two sides to them. The plot is easy to follow her not boring. It is also an adventure for anyone who likes a loyal friend to stand by them on the run. The only problem I have with this book is the ending. Smallish book, quick read, I recommend the book and the movie.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Diego C.
Awards:
Delirium
Oliver, Lauren
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Delirium, a dystopian novel written by Lauren Oliver, follows a girl's thoughts and actions in a world where love is deemed a disease and where she meets a boy who changes her whole perspective on life. In the world of Delirium there is a cure for love which Lena can't wait to get when she turns 18, the age required to be given the disease. But after she meets a boy, named Alex, she can't help but question the cure and question herself as she as to decide whether to let love consume her, or stay with what she has been taught. It had action, conflict, suspense, and romance. Throughout the book you learn a lot about Lena and the world she lives in, and see her change dramatically from a naive girl waiting to be cured of the "disease" love to being more independent and wanting more of this love she had never experienced before. Over all, Delirium is a great book that kept me wanting more and I would suggest it to anyone that is interested in finding something new to read.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Angelina L.
Awards:
Book Review: Brown Girl Dreaming
Woodson, Jacqueline
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This autobiography written in free verse by Jacqueline Woodson is an excellent insight into growing up as an African American girl in the 1960's.
It is a very moving portrayal of the role of family (grandparents, parents, uncles & aunts and siblings) in a life of a child. The author also gives the reader a definite sense of place, whether it is Ohio, South Carolina or Brooklyn, NY. Highly recommended.

Reviewer's Name: Lisa
Genres:
Book Review: Les Miserables
Hugo, Victor
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Les Miserables was one of the most boring books I've read. I chose this book because my mom told me that there was a movie about it and the new musical. Well I bought it and I almost fell asleep. I mean if you like the classics then go for it but if you're more of an action or adventure person then this could easily put you to bed. the historical facts we're seen clearly in this book but if you a lot about French history then this book is easily predictable.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Isabella Z.
Awards:
Book Review: The Boy from the Basement
Shaw, Susan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Boy from the Basement is a story of a boy who escaped child abuse and neglect. This is one of the books that we are required to read for Battle of the Books. I went online to find a summary about this and I decided it would be a great book. I sure wasn't disappointed. It was so beautifully written that I could easily picture everything that was going on with the main character through all of this. This is one of the books I recommend to anyone who wants be moved and be captivated.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Isabella Z.
Genres:
Book Review: Blackout
Wells, Robison E.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Blackout changes perspectives throughout the story. It does get kind of annoying because it leaves you at a cliffhanger but other then that is a great book. I really hated how it didn't make sense before but then you see the entire story for what it is. I chose this because it's a Battle of the Books book and the cover looks really interesting. I wish that I had more details.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Isabella Z.
Book Review: Between Shades of Gray
Sepetys, Ruta
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book really made me want to cry. I loved how this entire story revolves around a 12 year old girl who is forced to move from place to place. I could relate to the protagonist because she has to make tough choices and she had to make sacrifices for the greater good. This story will cause sadness and also create a spark of hope. This is a beautifully written story and is perfect for any age.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Isabella Z.
Genres:
Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars
Green, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I love how this book really moved me and how it's written. This girl truly wants to be normal but having cancer makes it impossible. She hates everything and is forced go to a support group. Her life is seemingly unbearable until she meets a boy named Augustus Waters. This is a story that will make people enjoy the little things in life. I love how it was written and how it is a modern book.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Isabella Z.
UnWholly
Shusterman, Neal
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

UnWholly by Neil Shusterman, the sequel to Unwind, begins where the last book ended and it's held its own against the first book unwind but with a twist. The last book was shown from different povs but there is a new main character that opens a new storyline and adds more mystery to the plot. If you thought you would get more answers about the heartland war you would be very disappointed as there are now more questions then you started off with. Great read would recommend if you have read books like Maze Runner and Hunger Games.

Reviewer Grade: 11

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

Fahrenheit 451 is a story about a future where people have become dull and lifeless. I liked the authors prediction of technology and how it takes over in the modern age. If you have to read it for school or if just for fun it shows the decent of peoples individuality when they are enamored by distraction all day long. Science fiction highly recommend.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Diego C.
The Book Thief
Zusak, Markus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Book Thief is about a girl living in the times of the holocaust. After the Nazi book burning she seals a book and hopes to learn to read it. Then her family takes in a Jewish prisoner who escaped the concentration camps. This will leave you on the edge of your seat. I chose this book based on the movie and I loved it. This is a wonderful story told from Death's P.O.V. I can't say anything bad about this book. This book is full of twist and turns. Reviewer Grade:7

Reviewer's Name: Isabella Z.
Genres:
Speak
Anderson, Laurie Halse
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Speak is about a girl named Melinda who was raped at a party. She calls the police, but is unable to tell angry partygoers why she did it. As she struggles with her secret, she eventually stops talking. The book follows her as she overcomes her past and finds her voice.

I liked the book. Nothing in it really amazed me, but it wasn't a bad read.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
Genres:

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