Other Award(s)

Book Review: The Magician's Land

Author
Grossman, Lev
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The final book of The Magicians trilogy follows Quentin back on Earth ready to take on a mission to steal a mysterious suit case along side other magically adept individuals, one being Plum, someone whom he knows from initial months after his expulsion from Fillory. Meanwhile, Eliot and Janet, along with new Fillorian royalty Josh and Poppy, work to save their world from destruction.
I really enjoyed this conclusion to this trilogy. The characters are given more depth (Janet makes her reappearance as an important character), storylines/loose ends from the previous books are solved or explained, and there are more perspectives rather than just Quentin. Seeing the story play out on both Earth and Fillory as they slowly come together near the end was a fun experience that wasn't shown in the other books due to their limited perspective.
The plot following Quentin and Plum was definitely a journey! Seeing the initial set up of the mission, the planning, and the execution and follow-up was deeply engaging. Not only were new things introduced, but it did a great job of creating its own story while connecting to previous storylines and the current plot with Fillory.
The events in Fillory were also fun, though they weren't as much of the story as Earth and didn't involve as much Josh and Poppy as I personally would have wanted. Regardless, this side of the story was also fun.
There were a few surprises that came up that were unexpected, but I'll leave them to you to see if you liked them or not.
Reader's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Antwaan
Genres

Book Review: We Were Liars

Author
Lockhart, E.
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The average reviews for this book are lower than usual, but it really surprised me. The story felt like a true story and dystopian and fiction all at once, not to mention the plot twist. The setting of an isolated vacation island set the background for a unique storyline between a few families with dark secrets. I enjoyed the main characters' personalities too, though there were some comments they made about homophobia and racism that were kind of weird and sounded like the author didn't do much research about the LGBTQ+ and POC communities. It was very entertaining still, and I would recommend it if you need a suspenseful story to read quickly.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author
Maas, Sarah J.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

This book had me completely hooked! It almost follows the plot of Beauty and the Beast but in its own world with its own complex characters. Feyre's determination and strength was incredible to see in a female character. Not only is she the main character and heroin but she carries real and deep emotions. In addition to this, I love Tamlin and his court. Sarah J Mass's descriptions are in depth and I felt like I was really in the room experiencing everything as it happened. The end had my head spinning and I could not wait for the next book.

Reviewer's Name
Samantha

Book Review: Shadow and Bone

Author
Bardugo, Leigh
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Shadow and Bone contains many complex themes. It held my attention; I couldnt put it down. I fell in love with the characters. They are all complex and maintain that complexity throughout the story. Until the end that is. I was unimpressed with the ending. It felt like Alina went against her own moral code to "win" that final fight. It felt forced and quite frankly, anticlimactic. It just didn't fit.

Reviewer's Name
Samantha

Book Review: The Magician King

Author
Grossman, Lev
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The second book of The Magicians trilogy continues with Quentin, Julia, Eliot, and Janet as kings and queens of Fillory before a quest throws Quentin and Julia back to Earth, and that quest being a snippet of a bigger problem for all magicians.
I enjoyed this book better than the first one. The world is more fleshed out, the plot is more interesting, and characters are more fleshed out (Quentin remains more or less the same to me, though). The biggest aspect of the book to me is Julia. In the first book, she is rarely shown and when she is, there is zero context on what was going on with her. In this installment, we get to see her backstory and her current character as the book oscillates between the current conflict and Julia's story during the events of The Magicians. Seeing her change and how it affects her (especially at the end of the book) is such a pivotal point of her dynamic with Quentin, as well as a driving force for the plot and world building (remember hedge witches?).
Other characters from the first book make their reappearance, along with some new ones, which bring some new life into the story . However, one character is largely excluded: Janet. While she appears in the beginning, she is left off the majority of the story. While the story doesn't necessarily need her, being a key character in the first book and a queen of the setting of the story, it would have been nice to see her more within the pages.
This a definitely a good edition to the series, and with the ending and some loose ends, I wonder how the final book will tie everything together.
Reader's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Antwaan
Genres

Book Review: Chomp

Author
Hiaasen, Carl
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

This is a book that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. I've read it every year since I was in elementary school, and it's a great story about kids standing up to nonsensical adults in a humorous yet adventurous way. Wahoo is an observant, level-headed character who contrasts with his father's personality well. I also love the girl Tuna because she is brave for everyone except herself, which is such an interesting character trope to follow. There's a great message of the negative impacts of media, such as reality television, and finding beauty in unconventional things. It is a quick read that will stick with you for a long time.

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Author
Larson, Erik
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

This is a compelling story of the popular World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the serial killer who took advantage of it. Set in the late 1800's, David Burnham and H. H. Holmes receive equal attention in alternating chapters between the fair's fascinating architecture and the growth of a heartless killer. I liked reading about the trials and errors of the fair and technology in the 19th century. Also, Holmes' terrifyingly calm demeanor added suspense to what would happen to his victims. It is a cool turn-of-the-century book, but the shift between monotone construction and graphic murders was an interesting style that isn't for everyone.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz

Author
Macadam, Heather Dune
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

I wavered between a 4 and 5 star review here, but my reviews are based on storytelling ability, not necessarily how little I enjoyed hearing about the details of Auschwitz. This author did a fantastic job of telling the stories of nearly 1,000 women while letting some of their personal accounts lead the pace and tone. Though the characters were hard to keep track of at some points, there was constant clarification of individuals to develop empathy for the girls in the Holocaust. There was also some groundbreaking information on the sexist disparities between records of the female experience in Auschwitz- as soon as you think life couldn't have been worse for these prisoners, it is revealed that women were treated the absolute worst. Definitely worth the read if you can stomach the tragedy.

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: Big Nate: In a Class by Himself

Author
Peirce, Lincoln
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

Big Nate, or Nate Wright, is a boy who has to deal with an arrogant teacher suck-up Gina, his perfect sister Ellen, who, Nate says, adults are too short-sighted to see how annoying she is, and a number of teachers including the worst one of all, Mrs. Godfrey. She apparently fails to recognize that despite his lack of knowing anything about history, or really anything else academic, that he is destined for greatness in the future. Nate feels though that at the current stage in his life, 6th grade, he can't do much about people not realizing his greatness, especially when surrounded by misguided teachers, his clueless father, or his joking best friends Francis and Teddy. Luck strikes when Nate didn't eat breakfast and one of his best friends Teddy offers him a fortune cookie. Most of the time Nate wouldn't get anything worth thinking about, but this time is different because, "Today you will surpass all others." As soon as he gets this, He realizes that the only place that he will surpass all the others is at school because at home the only people he could surpass is his clueless dad and his annoying sister. Because of this, he tries every class out of the day to make it happen, causing him to land seven detentions throughout the day. Will Nate Wright be able to surpass all of the others, or will he be in detention, "In a class by himself."

I liked this book because Nate seems to not understand very much about what he should do in the world, so this means that he will inevitably make his own funny decisions. The only reason that I didn't like this book as much was because it was the first in the series and I just didn't feel like it was the best one out of them. I picked this book because I had already read some of the other books in the series, (I read them out of order,) and I decided that I probably should read the first one to see how the story began. This book surprised me because I had no idea what the "origin story" could possibly be for this kind of a character, but if I would have guessed, the story would have exceeded my expectations. I have read many books like this, this year so sadly I can't say that it is one of the best ones that I have read this year.

Reviewer's Name
Cooper

Book Review: The Giver

Author
Lowry, Lois
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The Giver is an eloquent novel that contains a meaning that eludes to a greater concept. It contains several twists that are revealed at the end making the book an interesting and exciting read. At the beginning of the novel, you are shown a world of gray and conformity, yet as the story progresses, you are introduced into a world of color and prominence. The characters are what make the book the great piece it is, and the way they are written allows you to relate to each of the characters. Overall an excellent book that I would absolutely read again.

Reviewer's Name
Veronica