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Other Award(s)

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude
Author: 
García Márquez, Gabriel
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I’ll admit: I didn’t really “get” this book. I had seen a TED-Ed YouTube video that told me how great it was, and I decided to give it a try. While there were parts that were entertaining, most of this book went over my head. I suppose if I understood Columbian history and the culture of Central and South America, I might have had a better grasp of what was going on. As it was, I felt lost most of the time and kind of wonder what makes it so highly-recommended.

Perhaps my biggest qualm with this book is how its narrative structure is laid out. There’s practically no dialogue, and it’s basically told in the form of a parable or fairy tale. There are a lot of characters, but their names were so similar that I had trouble keeping track of them all. I get they’re all part of the same family, but having to remember so many individuals and the familial connections to each other was a struggle. I also felt a little lost because there wasn’t a strong narrative thread tying everything together other than the fact that it all took place in the same small town.

This is not to say One Hundred Years of Solitude has no merit, though. Some of the elements of “magical realism” were interesting and could have been the solid base of their own stories instead of being jammed together in this book. The pacing of this book was also pretty peppy, as it didn’t seem to linger too long with one character, realizing that it had many generations to cover. Even though it’s considered a classic (much like Ulysses ), I’m not sure if I agree, and I am certainly welcome to my opinion as you are welcome to yours.

A much better book for those who are “in the know,” I give One Hundred Years of Solitude 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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

If you are a fan of Harry Potter, you probably always wondered what happened to Harry, Ron and Hermione after they left Hogwarts. This book answers those questions. It is written in play form, so it is a little awkward at first, but once you get into the story, you barely even realize the different style.
It was a great story and made you feel like you were still part of Harry and his friends lives. This is a must read story for any Harry Potter fan.

Reviewer's Name: 
Brenna C.

Book Review: Gwendy's Music Box

Gwendy's Music Box
Author: 
King, Stephen
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

While most people think of Stephen King's book as being scary, this book was more suspenseful than scary. It is the story of Gwendy, a 12 year old girl who decided to run the suicide stairs in her neighborhood to lose weight before school starts. She meets a man wearing a black hat at the top of the stairs. This man calls her over by name and gives her a specialw box that will give her chocolate and silver dollars. The box has buttons on top and Gwendy can control what may happen by pushing one of the buttons. Once she takes the box, good things start happening in Gwendy's life. Gwendy becomes obsessed with the box and keeps it with her until after college, when she comes home one day to see a familiar black hat in her apartment. The story moves quickly and keeps you interested throughout the phases of Gwendy's life. If you are interested in Stephen King books but don't want to read anything too scary, this is a great book to start with.

Reviewer's Name: 
Brenna C.

Book Review: Zebra Forest

Zebra Forest
Author: 
Gewirtz, Adina Rishe
Rating: 
1 star = Yuck!
Review: 

The book Zebra Forest, by Adrina Gewirtz, tells a story of four lives that are held captive by their father and... the book is essentially just that. The plot is incredibly dull and basic, the characters have no real life to them, the book just seems ramble on and on, and here, everything that can be wrong with a book is present. The title doesn't even have any real importance in the book! I get how maybe a few people might like this book, but from a writing perspective, this book lacks in everything. The book tries so hard to address a somewhat difficult-to-cover topic but forgets that it's meant for older audiences and fails at both. Overall, I would only recommend this book only to the most desperate of readers, or a younger kid.

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven L.

Book Review: The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife
Author: 
Niffenegger, Audrey
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I find myself somewhat conflicted between two mediums whenever a book is made
into a movie. On the one hand, I truly enjoyed The Time Traveler's Wife
(2009) when I first saw it. While the book the movie was based on has a lot
more material, it became obvious that a lot of this material could easily be
cut for the movie and very little would be lost in the narrative. Despite
this material (which I'll get to in a bit), the book is lavishly and
poetically written and was a joy to read.

With a main character who can time travel, I'm having a tough time
determining if the foreshadowing in this book was brilliant or just a bit too
heavy-handed. I'm also not sure if I even like the main characters themselves
since they're essentially the definition of "white privilege" (with all the
trust funds, alcoholism and casual drug use, and "academic" or "artistic"
professions to boot). What stood out in this book, though, was the enormous
amount of sex. I almost wondered if this was supposed to be erotica. While it
was even shocking at times (I'm looking at you, ending), I can't help but
wonder if it's considered cheating when a husband has sex with his wife at
different times in their relationship.

All this being said, the strength of the writing helped to cover up some of
its weaknesses. Sure, you could make the argument that this is a study in
Stockholm syndrome, but you could also give it credit for creatively handling
the science fiction theme of time travel in an interesting and unique new
fashion. There are a lot of questions that inevitably pop up with the
continuity of a time-traveling character, and I felt that the worldbuilding
done to ground this concept was particularly exceptional. In the end, The
Time Traveler's Wife is a descriptive and heart-warming/wrenching tale that
at least deserves one read-through.

A romantic book wrapped tightly in a single sci-fi element, I give The Time
Traveler’s Wife 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Loney

The Loney
Author: 
Hurley, Andrew Michael
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The raw intense power of this book is simply incredible. Gothic horror literary fiction at it’s best!

The Loney follows the story of 2 brothers Smith and his cognitively disable brother Hanny, known as the boy who does not speak, their family and their religious community as they take a pilgrimage to a religious shrine at the Loney, a bleak desolate part of the English coastline, in hopes of finding healing for him. This book takes place in the 1970’s and centers around a family and a tight knit religious community. It explores family dynamics, the tight knit relationship between the brothers, which I absolutely loved and felt was so strong, and between the brothers and their parents. Particularly their mom a religious overbearing figure who is definitely seen as not only the leader of her family but a very strong leader within the religious community as well often imposing her will on everyone. It also explores relationships between the religious community. Both among members and between the new more modern/ forward thinking priest and the parishioners as well as between the priest and the two brothers. The relationship study in this book, from a sociological and psychological standpoint is alone worth five stars.

But the Loney is more than just a sociological study, the Loney is also a desolate raw place riddled with secrets, rugged beauty and loneliness, a place time left behind. This is evoked perfectly in this quote describing the Loney.

“A sudden mist a mumble of thunder over the sea the wind scurrying along the beach with it's crop of old bones and litter was sometimes all it took to make you feel as though something was about to happen. Though quite what I didn't know. I often thought their was too much time there. That the place was sick with it. Haunted by it. Time didn't leak away as it should. There was nowhere for it to go and no modernity to hurry it along. It collected as the black water did on the marshes and remained and stagnated in the same way."

Eerie and creepy right! The sense of place and atmosphere that Hurley portrays here is so strong, that it’s like a a whole other character in the book. It slowly gathers itself around you like a invisible blanket and doesn’t let go. Add to that the tight writing, the slow burn of the story, the eerie terrifying conclusion, and the gothic dreary English coastline setting and you have the perfect fall read. Don’t expect a fast moving gore horror but if you like gothic creepy horror that slowly builds and creeps up on you, you will love this book! I highly recommend reading this beautiful piece of fiction! I cannot say enough about Andrew Hurley! No wonder Stephen King said this is a “great piece of fiction.” Hurley is definitely one to watch! You can put your copy of this atmospheric psychological suspenseful horror on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: 
Tawnie

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby
Author: 
Fitzgerald, Scott F.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I thought this book captured an element in life that writing doesn't normally follow. While most books talk about the underprivileged, or those trying to overcome a great challenge, this book spun a tale about glamorous cocktail parties, elegant evening wear, the enticing, almost seductive society of wealth. Nick Carraway moves into a house next to Gatsby, an extravagant, self-made millionaire in the 1920's, and is thrown into the fast-paced and whirling word of millionaires and all their expensive friends.
But Gatsby has a secret, buried under fancy cars and fizzy drinks: he is still in love with Daisy, the wife of Tom Buchanan. In his attempts to cultivate an affair with her, Nick documents the heart-wrenching, and frankly, very interesting, journey of a man who realises money can't buy him love. -Jordan, 8th grade Your Name: Jordan T, 8th grade

Reviewer's Name: 
Jordan T.

Book Review: The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible
Author: 
Kingsolver, Barbara
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Nathan Price moves his wife and four daughters out into the Congo in 1959. He's a prolific and die-hard evangelical Baptist pastor, with his mind set on converting the majority of the Congo population to Christianity. His wife, Orleanna, is submissive and silent, obeying him and allowing him to hit their children. Rachel, the eldest Price daughter, arrogant, self-centered, and sorely missing her comfortable 16 year-old life back in the States. Next come the twins, Adah and Leah. Adah is shriveled up and crippled, but her mind runs like a confusing, rampaging fire. Leah has cut her hair short and vows to shoot her bow and arrow as well as any village boys. And Ruth May, the baby of the family at 5 years old, with her warped and imaginative outlooks on their jungle surroundings. The Price family is trying to hold it together as the Congo fights for independence from Belgium, as they watch children starve to death on their doorstep, and the colorful like of the jungle swirl around their broken household. -Jordan T, 8th grade

Reviewer's Name: 
Jordan T.

Book Review: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: 
Albertalli, Becky
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Becky Albertalli's novel "Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is a wonderful coming of age book that shows the hardships of being different in high school. Simon Spier is your average high school student. He has a close group of friends who he loves, he gets decent grades, loves participating in theater, but he keeps a secret about himself from all of those around him.
"Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is a great story for those who love love, drama, and just being a teenager. Truly a story for the ages.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K.

Book Review: The Serpent King

The Serpent King
Author: 
Zentner, Jeff
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

'The Serpent King' gripped me in its coils and kept me turning its pages late into the night. A triumph of love and dignity," (New York Times Bestselling author, Stephanie Perkins). In the depths of a small Tennessee town, Dill Early struggles with a reputation that isn't even his. With an insane, jailed minister for a father and a brainwashed, beat-down mother, Dill does not expect to escape from the recesses of poverty and shame. "The Serpent King" tracks the senior year of outcasts Dill and his best friends Travis and Lydia. Throughout this exhilarating novel you experience joy, heartbreak, hope, and thankfulness for your own situation.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K.

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