Other Award(s)

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: 
Schwab, V. E.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

A co-worker of mine suggested I check this book out, and I have now finally gotten around to it. While he gave this series of books a glowing review, I can only hope that the other books in this trilogy fare better than this one. For what it was worth, A Darker Shade of Magic didn’t seem to be original enough for me to care much about what happened in it. It’s filled with so many fantasy and YA tropes that I could almost swear I’d read the same book somewhere else before.

Perhaps part of my problem comes with the audiobook production of this story. I generally liked Lila, except when she was particularly annoying. There were quite a few times the narrator made her sound like Audrey Hepburn in the early part of My Fair Lady (1964), and that’s not much of a compliment. Overall, though, I can understand how the first book in a series can be dry just based on the fact that it has so much exposition and world-building to do to lay a foundation for the next books.

And maybe the “generic” feel of this book comes from the logical nature of a magic system closely tied to blood? I like the concept of the parallel Londons, and the action sequences near the end were reasonably exciting, so there is some merit to this book. It’s more that everything felt so flat and uninteresting, even with a compelling topic like blood magic tying everything together. While I wasn’t necessarily impressed with this book, I’ll continue to be my stubborn (or perhaps masochistic) self and continue with the rest of the series to see what all the commotion is about.

A generic YA fantasy with a few shining moments, I give A Darker Shade of Magic 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Martian

Book Cover
Author: 
Weir, Andy
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

After a NASA crew member is left behind on planet Mars, he has a huge to-do list. First, come in contact with NASA to prove he is alive, don't starve, don't die, then make it home alive. I'm not a huge fan of any science fiction type book, however, this was indeed an exception. I loved the perspectives the author chose to include, and the humor he shot into his characters gives the story personality. I suggest this book to an eighth grade audience; there is some inappropriate language and all of the science attributes are complex to understand. I strongly suggest to you this book if you want to be left on the edge of your seat with every new chapter, right up until the end.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaime P.

Book Review: Fablehaven

Book Cover
Author: 
Mull, Brandon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Fablehaven is a book about siblings, Kendra and Seth. Their parents send them to their grandparents house where they find out it's actually a magic preserve for mythical creatures. When Seth's mischief gets out of hand will they be able to save the preserve, and the world? Fablehaven is my favorite book series and I know you will enjoy it too. Once you read the first book you won't be able to stop until you've finished the series. As a teen I was able to relate to the characters and I just couldn't stop reading!

Reviewer's Name: 
McKenna B

Book Review: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

Book Review: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood book jacket
Author: 
Noah, Trevor
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Not bad. I was expecting more on his move to Los Angeles and the establishment of his career and time on the Daily Show but the memoir doesn't cover that. I guess I should have known that judging by the title. There was a little bit of jumping around and muddling of incidents in his life, but overall it was educational and entertaining.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: The Martian

The Martian book jacket
Author: 
Weir, Andy
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

As a crew of astronauts leave from Mars, Mark Watney, an astronaut is left behind as he was presumed dead. Watney is forced to survive on Mars with the limited resources and supplies that he has with him. As he is doing so, NASA on Earth are diligently working to bring him home for a rescue mission.

The Martian is a fictional story that interests those who are interested in either science and/or action. Bringing both of these together, it illustrates a stressful novel that will keep the reader on.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: 1984

1984
Author: 
Orwell, George
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

1984 introduces Winston Smith as the primary character. Smith is a middle-aged man that lives within a dystopian society in April of 1984. Being nearly 4 decades after World War II and just a couple of years after the apparent Atomic Wars, Smith lives through the totalitarian state of Oceania, where is activity is consistently surveyed. At this point, Smith attempts to relocate himself from this totalitarian state in order to put him back to normal behavior.

1984 is another novel involving a dystopia, however, it stands out for its strong character development. The premise of the story is heavily shown through the setting, as it demonstrates a controlled and tyrannical lifestyle.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried book jacket
Author: 
O'Brien, Tim
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Things They Carried follows through the perspective of a soldier within the 23rd Infantry Division. Enlisted during the Vietnam War, the book covers over the soldier's, as well as the platoons experiences throughout. The Things They Carried is a collection of stories that correlate to one another, bringing an ultimate immersion to those that are interested of any war, or historical context.

The Things They Carried is a book that has a deeper insight within the emotional, mental, and physical state of the soldiers that went through the Vietnam War. Having a darker and more serious tone than other novels, it is one that stands out and deserves recognition.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the last book of the series that follows the adventures of Harry Potter. As Harry and his crew have evidently aged to a more mature level of both wisdom and wizardry, they have no choice but to face Voldemort. Harry, alongside his two best friends, Ron and Hermione begin to destroy Voldemort's army piece by piece. As Voldemort takes control of the Wizardry world, Harry prepares for the ultimate showdown.

The Deathly Hallows is an extremely enticing story that brings an end to the Harry Potter series. Renowned for its fantasy and lore, the Deathly Hallows collectively groups it all into one story for an action-pact and romantic story.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince book jacket
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the 5th book of the Harry Potter series. In this, it embarks upon the adventure of Harry Potter, switching in between the Muggle and Wizard worlds to combat the upcoming villain, Voldemort. As safety is becoming more of a concern, Potter must find a way to combat this new danger that lurks around his home.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one of the better books of the series, as Harry and the rest of the characters have had an in-depth insight of their character. Now, it can focus upon the story, interesting those who are involved with action-pact novels.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Bomb

Bomb book jacket
Author: 
Shienken, Steve
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book is perfect for young history enthusiasts, around the age of middle school. It's all about how the world's deadliest weapon was created, researched, spied on, and used. Explaining the race and allies of America to win the Cold War and beat Russia and Japan in creating the very first atomic bomb, this real-life story includes many famous scientists and new scientific discoveries. If you love action, science, and history, then I promise you'll love this book. It is super unpredictable and has a pretty sad ending when one of the countries wins. But who wins? Guess you're going to have to read to find out. Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaime P

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