Golden Kite Award

Book Review: Lovely War

Book Cover
Author: 
Berry, Julie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Lovely War by Julie Berry is such a wonderful book about two couples in the tragic and terrible days of WWI as narrated by the Greek Gods. I chose Lovely War because of my interest in historical fiction, especially historical
romances, and was not disappointed by this amazing story. The book centers on four young people who's path's cross during WWI-- British Hazel Windicott, a pianist, and James Alderidge, a would-be architect shipped off to war, Colette Fournier, a Belgian singer who lost her family at the hands of the Germans, and Aubrey Edwards, a black American solider in a jazz military band in a time of military prejudice and racial discrimination. Hazel and James meet and fall in love days before he is shipped off to the Front to face deadly combat in the WWI trenches. Distraught over the fate of James, Hazel, eager to help the war effort, enlists as a pianist at a volunteer job and meets Colette, a fellow volunteer. They become very close friends, and Colette begins to fall in love with charismatic Aubrey, who's jazz is redefining the world of music. What follows is a beautifully written novel about these four characters, their hardships, and loves.

This book is structured interestingly-- the story of these two parallel loves is narrated by the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, who tells the tale years later in the days of WWII to her husband, Hephaestus, god of fire and volcanos, and a few other gods to remind them what true love is and the transcendent power of love over war. The story is funny, heartbreaking, intense, and overall, beautiful. I felt as if I knew Hazel, James, Aubrey and Colette personally by the time the story is over. Julie Berry's prose is almost poetic in it's splendor, rich with meticulous descriptions about wartime France and Britain.


This book deals with elements of WWI I did not know about-- Germany's brutal and heartbreaking invasion of Belgium, and the prejudice and racial discrimination in the U.S army during WWI. I wasn't a huge fan of the
inclusion of the Greek Gods as narrators at first-- the story is strong enough to stand without it-- and until the very end, the purpose of the Gods in the story is almost irrelevant. I would have been interested to know if Berry ever had a draft of the story sans-Gods. However, reflecting back on the book, the Gods add another tier to the rich narrative, one that is appreciated more after the novel is over. That said, I know that that
inclusion was to make the book more accessible to teenage readers. Fans of Greek epics and the Percy Jackson series will enjoy the inclusion of them Gods.

The central romance and characters in this book are Hazel and James, and their relationship and connection is deeper than Colette's and Aubrey's until the end of the story. Berry dedicates more time to the relationship of Hazel and James, and it is the best story line as a result. I wish Colette and Aubrey's story would have been given more attention, as it is truly unique and unlike anything I've read, but the last pages of the book focuses solely on them which I enjoyed.

This book never lacks action and is a very quick read. I often had to remind myself to slow down so not to rush through it! Lovely War is written for teenagers, but is just as accessible for tweens and adults, truly making it a book for all ages. Lovely War is one of those special books that you read and know that your perception of the world will be changed because of it. I cannot stress how much I recommend this beautiful book. It is a marvel of the historical fiction, romance and mythology genres that everyone should read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Allie S.

Book Review: Big Little Lies

Book Review: Big Little Lies
Author: 
Moriarty, Liane
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

When a bullying issue arises in Kindergarten, several mothers duke it out on the elementary schoolyard. As we glimpse into the world of the three main mothers we see heart-wrenching elements unfold.

I didn't expect to get much out of this book. In fact, I thought it would be snarky and contrived. After all, the title smacks of drama. But I enjoyed it thoroughly, drama and all. I hadn't read the summary and didn't have any idea as to what would happen next. It was fun and powerful at the same time.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray
Author: 
Sepetys, Ruta
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Taking place during WWII... Lina, a fifteen-year-old girl, lives a peaceful and normal life drawing and going to school but when the NKVD, better known as Soviet officers, force them to leave, adventure and chaos abduct Lina's normal lifestyle. Lina, her brother Jonas, and her mom Elena have to travel by train living with the bare minimum to survive off of. From Soviet officers forcing them to work to stealing food to survive, Lina has to find a way to outlast WWII and the capture of her family. Her main goal through all this; to find her dad. This dramatic adventure written by Ruta Sepetys will pull you off your seat.
Reviewer's Age: 15

Reviewer's Name: 
Aiden F

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray
Author: 
Sepetys, Ruta
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Review: This is the one of best historical fiction books I've ever read. Most historical fictions get their facts wrong, but this book had accurate details and the writer manages to get a good story into it. I absolutely loved the plot and the different kind of character's. The only problem with it is after all that detail throughout the book, at the end it kind of just drops off a cliff. It had a unique ending, I just wish it had more explanation to it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mikayla B.

Book Review: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Author: 
Avi
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I honestly was not expecting this to be as good of a book as it was. I guess I was thinking it would be more like Treasure Island (which I didn’t like too much). It actually turned out to be a really good story about a twelve year old girl named Charlotte Doyle who has booked a voyage with two other families on the Seahawk ship to return home from her school in England to see her family. Charlotte then discovers that the two other families have mysteriously cancelled their trip, making her the only girl on the ship. She then has many adventures on the Seahawk with the shipmates and the cruel Captain Jaggery involving a silver dirk, storms at sea, muskets, round robins, watery coffee… and possibly murder. I highly recommend this book to anybody who likes historical fiction, books told in diary form, books about seafaring, or is just looking for a good book to read.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Jacob U.

Book Review: Speak

Speak
Author: 
Anderson, Laurie Halse
Rating: 
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.
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