YALSA Award

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: 
Rowling, J. K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban is about Harry’s 3rd year at Hogwarts. Along with friends Ron and Hermione, Harry investigates the case of Sirius Black, an escaped prisoner from Azkaban, the wizard prison. Sirius Black is believed to be one of Voldemort's allies, and he is the only wizard ever to escape Azkaban, so he is definitely powerful. Harry Potter then overhears that Sirius Black wants to kill him.

This book is full of creeps and chills, like in one part, the train to Hogwarts is stopped because of terrible flying things that can suck out your soul. Because of these soul-suckers, Harry almost dies, but in the end, Harry learns a lot about himself, his parents, and friends (both of his, and his parents’).

But this book is still full of interest. In a memorable moment, Harry Potter flies on a Hippogriff, which is a hybrid between a horse and eagle. In another part, The Prisoner of Azkaban goes from fantasy to sci-fi, because of time travel, where Harry goes back in time to save himself.

With the adventurous and scary parts in perfect balance, this book is a good read, and personally, it is my favorite book in the whole series.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gurman S.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Book Cover
Author: 
Rowling, J. K.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets is a continuation of Harry’s journey in the wizardry school of Hogwarts. The book basically starts when messages appear on the wall. These messages say that the "Chamber of Secrets" has been opened and that the "heir of Slytherin" will kill all students who are muggles. These threats are found after attacks on some students that leave everyone in the school scared. Harry starts his own little investigation with his friends, Hermione and Ron.

The book is full of mystery, but it has its share of funny too, like a new professor, Gilroy Lockhart, thinks that he is the best at everything, as he shows off to his students including Harry, Hermione and Ron. Eventually, Professor Lockhart, ends up humiliating himself many many times in front of his pupils.

In another part, Harry and Ron decide to use an enchanted flying car to get to Hogwarts from summer break. Just as they arrive at Hogwarts, the car begins to break down and they end up crashing into a tree that swings its branches wildly. Harry and Ron somehow survive, but eventually get detention.

So, overall, it is a good read, but personally, it is my least favorite book in the series.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gurman G.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Book Cover
Author: 
Rowling, J. K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

For people who want to enjoy an intriguing, fast paced novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the perfect book to read. It keeps you involved throughout the book as most chapters have cliffhangers at the end. This novel is the first of the seven famous Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.

The book is about 11 year old Harry Potter, who receives a letter saying that he is invited to attend Hogwarts, school of witchcraft and wizardry. He then learns that a powerful wizard and his minions are after the sorcerer’s stone that will make this evil wizard immortal and undefeatable. Harry decides to go after the sorcerer’s stone before the wizard reaches it, but his loyal friends, Hermione and Ron don’t let Harry face this danger alone.

This book is full of fantasies and imagination like at one point, Harry Potter is asked to catch a flying golden ball while flying on his broomstick. Eventually Harry Potter stands on his broomstick and tries to reach for the ball, but he falls off the broomstick in a very tense moment. He unexpectedly throws up the golden ball winning the game for his team.

Harry Potter and a sorcerer stone is a good book to spark joy and imagination for anyone, regardless of age. But I would say it is most enjoyable for elementary school students, who can very well relate to the fantasy world. So I would say that it is a must read for younger audiences, but it’s a good read in general.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gurman G.

Book Review: The Book Thief

Book Cover
Author: 
Zusak, Markus
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is my favorite book of all time. The story follows a young girl named Liesel Meminger growing up in Nazi Germany. Her love of books progresses throughout the plot, and the cast of characters she meets along the way help make the story the loveable masterpiece I know it as (personally, my favorite characters include Max Vandenburg, Rudy Steiner, and Hans Hubermann). This book is historical fiction, but I recommend it for most (if not all) readers. I typically read fantasy books, but I adore The Book Thief. The plot isn’t fast paced like adventure stories, and the events are on the ordinary side, but in my opinion the author does a brilliant job with descriptions and human connections within the book. Another reason I love this book is the use of the narrator--the way colors are described and the story is told is unique and wonderful to read. It’s a story about WWII told in a different perspective than other books we typically read at school, such as Night by Elie Wiesel or The Diary of Anne Frank. Even if you don’t particularly like the historical fiction genre, I would recommend giving this book a try. I first read it in 6th grade, but it is definitely not a story for just children. It is good for any age, and common sense media rates it for kids 13+.

Reviewer's Name: 
Cora G.

Book Review: Into the Wild

Book Cover
Author: 
Krakauer, Jon
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I read ‘Into the Wild’ by Jon Krakauer in my sophomore year for extra credit in my English class. The book is about a young man that did live a privileged life but saw the world as that you don’t need money or materialistic things to live. I believed that his view on the world was ignorant and innocent because how he was brought up in life with money and never having to worry about anything, there was no struggle. For me what he ended up doing just seem very disrespectful to his parents, up and leaving them without saying anything. Into the Wild is just an amazing book with a very sad and devastating ending. Although it most of it did make me a little upset, I would read it again.

Reviewer's Name: 
Miguel

Book Review: The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring

The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring
Author: 
Preston, Richard
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

You might know Richard Preston from his nonfiction thriller The Hot Zone or Micro, a techno-thriller Michael Crichton started before his untimely death in 2008. Although the subject matter of The Wild Trees is very different from these works, it continues Preston’s trend of combining scientific detail with narrative finesse. Specifically, this book focuses on the California redwoods, but readers will learn as much about the redwoods themselves as they will about the men and women who study them. Steve Sillett, for instance, started climbing redwoods freehand without any equipment to break his fall. Considering some redwoods are nearly 400 feet tall, this feat is as awe-inspiring as it is terrifying.

This book also provides fascinating detail on redwood canopies, which house salamanders, copepods (a type of crustacean), and even other trees! Thanks to Preston’s meticulous research and eye-popping descriptions, readers will feel like they’re exploring the redwoods alongside him.

The Wild Trees is a must-read for anyone who loves the redwoods or nature in general.

Reviewer's Name: 
Lisa

Book Review: Boneshaker

Boneshaker
Author: 
Priest, Cherie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Boneshaker is the novel that kicks off Cherie Priest's "Clockwork Century" series - one of the most widely acclaimed book series in the Steampunk genre. Boneshaker explores an alternate history of the United States during the Civil War era. The plot centers around Briar Wilkes, the widow of the infamous Leviticus Blue - inventor of the titular boring machine that he was commissioned to create, in order to retrieve the vast veins of gold that are hiding under the thick ice of Alaska in the midst of the Klondike Gold Rush. During a devastating test run, the Boneshaker destroys the foundations of a good portion of Seattle, killing many, and releasing a dangerous gas that turns survivors into zombies. Leviticus disappears, and walls are erected around Seattle to contain the "blight" gas, and the "rotters". Briar does her best to survive and raise her son Zeke in the "Outskirts" of Seattle, suffering the prejudice shown to both of them, due to her husband's actions. Zeke is convinced that he can prove that his father was innocent, and that the destruction was purely unintentional, so he journeys beneath the wall, into Seattle to find the evidence he needs. Unlike Leviticus, Zeke's
grandfather (Maynard Wilkes) is revered as a folk hero, having lost his life in the exodus of Seattle, freeing inmates from the prison. Zeke feels this may help him if he runs into trouble within Seattle's walls. When Briar finds Zeke gone, and what his intentions are, she arms herself with Maynard's accoutrements and catches an air ship over the wall, to search for her son. Separately, Briar and Zeke find people who help to save them from being devoured by the "rotters", and attempt to aid them in their respective searches. Briar learns of the mysterious Dr. Minnericht who seems to run the
doomed city within the walls, and that many are convinced that he is in fact, Leviticus Blue (something she doesn't believe). When events draw Briar and Zeke both into Dr. Minnericht's stronghold, it seems the heart of the mystery
will be resolved with this fateful meeting.

Boneshaker is an epic foray into a dystopian alternate universe, and readers of various genres, are sure to find many wonders to be fascinated by in this version of Washington's famous "Emerald City".

In addition to physical book and audiobook formats, Boneshaker can also be downloaded and enjoyed at home, in either ebook or eaudiobook form.

Reviewer's Name: 
Chris W.

Book Review: Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

Book Review: Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment
Author: 
Patterson, James
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Maximum Ride is probably one of the most interesting and exciting books I have ever read. The novel starts with a group of children living in a house on their own, the one who watches out for the younger children is sixteen year old, Maximum Ride (Max). The children are not like other normal kids though; they can all fly. When the kids were younger they were all kidnapped by scientists and were experimented on. While they were experimented on they were given genetically attached wings. The children all escaped with the strength they all had together but now the scientists want them back. They can fly and they are stronger than most humans and they each have
individual powers unique to only them and they are not easy to find. The scientist also created what Max and the other children call “Erasers”, which are genetically mutated humans half wolf, half human with the sole purpose of finding the missing flying children. The novel follows Max and the children on their journey to freedom. I honestly think that there is something for everyone to enjoy in this book: romance, science fiction, action and adventure. I love this book and would highly recommend reading it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Madison S.

Book Review: Good Omens

Book Cover
Author: 
Pratchett, Terry & Gaiman, Neil
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book contains a captivating world in which angels and demons exist, and there are two in particular we follow who roam the Earth. Their goal: to stop the apocalypse. Their respective sides endeavor for the apocalypse to occur, but the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley have grown very fond of Earth.
The story follows several humans as well, including the Witchfinder Newton Pulsifer, the witch Anathema Device, and the Them. It also follows the story of the Antichrist, and the four horsemen. It is an absolutely spellbinding read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Settare R

Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Author: 
Semple, Maria
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Written creatively through letters, emails, and memos to and from characters, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is the story of a woman struggling with her past. Bernadette Fox is a former architect whose claim to fame was also her downfall. Now vanished from the architecture world, she lives in Seattle with her successful husband and tenacious daughter, Bee, and does all she can to avoid social interaction. While Bernadette is preparing for the family trip to Antarctica that Bee has been anxiously awaiting, a confrontation with another parent sends her spiraling out of control, resulting in Bernadette’s sudden disappearance. This book explores the difficulties of mental illness and how our actions affect one another, told through many different perspectives. Bernadette’s opinionated personality will have readers laughing, and her insights are truly relatable. A rollercoaster ride of emotions, this novel is beautifully and creatively written to portray a woman’s imperfections and a daughter’s determination to find her mother. Teen and adult readers alike will connect with Semple’s characters and appreciate her sense of humor in Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa H.

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