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Goodreads Choice Award/Nominee

Book Review: Sourdough

Sourdough
Author: 
Sloan, Robin
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Much like Armada to Ready Player One or Artemis to The Martian , I looked forward to reading Robin Sloan's follow-up to Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore . Unfortunately, much like the follow-up books by Ernest Cline and Andy Weir, respectively, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with Sloan’s Sourdough. I will give credit that Sloan’s quirky and charming style is still in high form here, it’s more that there wasn’t much of a central conflict that would have led to a satisfying ending. It’s almost like too many plotlines got into the mix, and it muddled everything up to the point where it would be too difficult to follow each to their logical conclusion.

Cline has video game references. Weir has accurate, hard sci-fi. If there’s one thing Sloan does well, it’s the fusion of analog and digital. From Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, it was the appreciation of the printed book in the era of Google searches. In Sourdough, Sloan explores the future of food—which is perhaps the most analog of topics—by including some realistic and relatively soon-to-be-realized technological advances like nutrient gels, robotic cooking, and alternative growing environments. If this was the primary focus of the book, there could have been a great conflict between old and new instead of what felt like a rushed, gulping ending to a book I’d want to sip like great wine.

Sourdough was my “vacation book,” meaning that I was truly looking forward to reading it. I love the style Sloan uses, which is both humorous and light. This book was quite the quick read, but that was helped by the fact that I hardly put it down. It’s a little disappointing that some of the “mysteries” weren’t played up more (I never really did care who Mr. Marrow was), and that the ending felt a little out of left field, but I’m sure I’ll pick up Sloan’s next book, regardless. After all, I was still entertained with this one, even if it didn’t live up to the “Mr. Penumbra” expectation.

Another semi-adequate follow-up from one of my newer, favorite authors, I give Sourdough 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin

Book Review: Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree
Author: 
Hunt, Lynda Mullaly
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book "Fish in a Tree" is about a girl named Ally Nickerson who has dyslexia and faces the struggles of not being able to read and everyday struggles any student can relate to. Ally experiences the school hardships of being alone, bullying, and not wanting to work. Despite these struggles she manages to get through the year while succeeding with her new friends. Throughout the story Ally learns valuable traits that the reader can relate to and apply to their own life. The novel "Fish in a Tree" not only inspires the reader, but teaches that things do get better. I personally liked the book because it was inspiring and had a great plot.

I picked this book for multiple reasons and was not at all disappointed. My first reason for picking the book was because it is a new battle book. My second reason for picking "Fish in a Tree" was the fact the reviews states fans of R.J. Palacio's "Wonder" would enjoy it and "Wonder" is one of my favorite books. I enjoyed the amazing character development the most. I actually enjoyed enjoyed all parts of "Fish in a Tree" and can honestly can not find a part I did not enjoy. This book did surprise me. I expected it to end in a sad, depressing way but it was in fact the exact opposite. I related the most to the main character Ally and her friends Keisha and Albert. This is by far one of the best books I have read this year. I would 100% recommend reading "Fish in a Tree".

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: Wonder

Wonder
Author: 
Palacio, R.J.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book Wonder fallows different perspectives of a boy named auggie and his family and friends. Auggie is a little boy with a deformed face. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes the switching of one prespective to the next. Anyone who wants to read this book is welcome to it can be read by 8-18 year olds or just anyone who wants to read it. The author did a really good job of tying all the perspectives together and make them not confusing. It was definitely one of my favorite books.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ashlyn H.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is succh a good book. PLEASE READ IT. If you are into fantasy you would love to read this book it has so much element to it. With all the creativity J.K. Rowling put into this book its was just amazing!

Reviewer's Name: 
Haylie

Book Review: We Were Liars

We Were Liars
Author: 
Lockhart, E.
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

We Were Liars is a mysterious young adult novel about a wealthy family who spends every summer on their private island. The story focuses on the main character, Cadence. After Cadence suffers a head injury during one of the summers, she cannot remember almost anything from that trip to the island. The next summer things are very different and Cadence has to try and remember why.
This book is quite a page-turner. As Cadence slowly remembers more and more details of the mysterious summer when she suffered her head injury, it is nearly impossible to put the book down. However, not all page-turners are necessarily great books. The story of We Were Liars may have been intriguing, but the content was not very substantial. There didn’t really seem to be any morals, and if there were, they weren’t very clear. Things just happened throughout the story, and although it was a mystery, nothing was truly deep or thought-provoking. The ending was shocking, but after thinking on it I thought, “That’s it?” I think that the drama of the story tricks you into thinking it’s a deep book, but the longer you think on it the more shallow it becomes. Basically, this book is purely entertainment, which is not all bad, but it was one of those books that after I read it, I thought about how I could have used my time differently.
Overall I would not read We Were Liars again, but it wasn’t a terrible book. If you are looking for a book that is just entertainment and won’t make you think much, this is the book for you. If you are looking for an exciting mystery novel, I would say look elsewhere.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Ashlyn P.

Book Review: Divergent

Divergent
Author: 
Roth, Veronica
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

I read this book shortly after I read the Hunger Games and I truly thought it would be much better than it ended up being. All of my friends had told me it was the most amazing book they had ever read and they loved everything about it. It was a struggle for me to keep reading the book but I had bought the entire series, so I was determined. I truly regret buying the books and wish I would've spent the money on a different series. The entire book seems like it's trying to be a mashup of other popular dystopian books and every time I would pick it up, I found myself thinking it had no originality. It reminded me a lot of The Giver, which is one of my favorite books, but it was like if The Giver was mixed with the The Hunger Games and not well written. I definitely haven't reached for Divergent since I read it the first time, and I don't think I'm likely to ever read it again.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Brenna C.

Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Author: 
Cain, Susan
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

This book has me questioning whether or not I'm actually the straight-up extrovert I believed myself to be. Maybe it's a product of aging or of circumstances, but I find myself identifying with the introverts in some aspects of my life. My husband is a hard-core introvert, so this book reinforced what I already know about him. The anecdotes were very interesting and the presentation was more readable than your average nonfiction book. Good book!

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: The Long Earth

The Long Earth
Author: 
Pratchett, Terry and Baxter, Stephen
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Having read a few of Sir Terry Pratchett's books before, I am no stranger to the randomness of his writing style. Usually, he has some character or object that just doesn’t fit in a normal narrative, but he manages to work it in with an explanation that’s both natural and makes sense. However, this only works if Pratchett has control over the entire story. Unfortunately, as is the case in The Long Earth, the randomness that Pratchett brings to the table sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the mostly sci-fi story. For instance, does an artificial intelligence have to be a reincarnated Tibetan motorcycle repairman? If you want to take the story seriously, probably not.

In the end, this book seems to be mostly written by Stephen Baxter, with only a smattering of Pratchett’s charm thrown in occasionally for levity. I haven’t read any of Baxter’s other books, but I’m not sure if I’d want to, considering how The Long Earth was put together. First off, the entire book seems to be an exposition dump about “stepping,” which is the process wherein people can move from one parallel universe into another. None of the narratives seems dedicated to anything in particular. With no goal in mind, the story will often get distracted away from the main character during little vignettes that explore some of the potentials of the multiverse theory presented therein.

I did appreciate the amount of thought that went into the limitations and peculiarities of stepping between parallel Earths, but when that’s the only focus of the book, it tended to get repetitive. So often, I’d be listening to this audiobook and realize that there wasn’t much dialogue between these characters; they were mostly spewing out more explanation about the Long Earth in a series of expository dumps of information.

A book full of sci-fi exposition, I give The Long Earth 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin M. Weilert

Book Review: Apollo 8

Apollo 8
Author: 
Kluger, Jeffrey
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In August 1968, NASA made the bold decision to win a major battle in the Cold War by launching the first manned flight to the moon. President Kennedy's deadline of putting a man on the moon by 1970 was fast approaching, but Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders were up to the challenge to make a huge advancement in order to meat the deadline. Apollo 8 tells the full story of the mission from Mission Control to the astronauts' homes, from the test labs to the launch pad. Apollo 8 also gives a summary of the Mercury, Gemini, and the other Apollo missions and talks about the science behind the mission in an easy to understand manner. From the coauthor of the bestselling book about Apollo 13, Apollo 8 is a thrilling yer informative tale and a great resource to have. I highly recommend this book for anyone in high school or older who is fascinated by the space program or is doing a project on anything related to NASA.

Reviewer's Name: 
John B.

Book Review: George

George
Author: 
Gino, Alex
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Since it was so short, it was a really quick read, but by no means an easy one. I loved it because it was so eye opening, real, and heart breaking. I hated it for the same reasons. It was incredible! The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because it ended too quickly. "George" is about a 4th grader who knows she's a girl born into a boy's body. As she struggles to keep this concealed from her peers, she debates if she even should keep the truth a secret. I don't want to spoil it too much, but she receives support from some peers, and uncertainty and... almost disappointment?... from others. Please read it, it's amazing! I loved it so much.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jordan T.

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