YALSA Award

Book Review: Vassa in the Night

Vassa in the Night
Author: 
Porter, Sarah
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

In this wildly imaginative and wacky story, the main character Vassa and her trusty living doll Erg must survive the dangers of a magical Brooklyn, convenience store, and the possibility of beheading. This story takes a modern and dark take on the Russian folktale "Vassilissa the Beautiful" as Vassa struggles with who she is and what she wants from the world. I found this book very interesting because it is much different from many of the other books I have read. This story is odd, quirky, and disconcerting to a degree as for a while you have no idea what is going on. The whole book almost seems to be an odd delusion or hallucination. I enjoyed reading this book because I am so used to flat or normal stories that have a clear indication of whats going on and it was fun to have to think and question what was going on.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K.
Awards: 

Book Review: The Book Thief

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

"The Book Thief", an intriguing story that focuses on a little girl living in Nazi Germany, is a delicate and emotional piece that will have you turning the pages until it is finished. This story is quick read, though surprising based on the 584 pages, and has you hooked on every word of every sentence of every paragraph. This novel is historical fiction, and is written by the perspective of death. Liesel Meminger, the main character of the story, is a foster child living in the excruciatingly difficult times of Nazi Germany. In the story, she faces so much, many of which happening before she meets her foster parents, only to have more head her way in the face of the war. This book is very raw and emotional, and really puts life as we know it into perspective. If you like historical fiction, real stories, and a happy ending, this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: 
Siena G

Book Review: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book
Author: 
Gaiman, Neil
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Nobody Owens (Bod for short) grows up in an ancient cemetery, raised by the spirits who reside there. As he becomes older, along with his school lessons and the special abilities given to him with the “freedom of the graveyard”, Bod must discover the secrets behind the death of his birth family, and the "Jacks of All Trades” (a dangerous secret society). Along the way Bod learns from various night creatures in addition to his extended family of ghosts, including ghouls, a witch, a werewolf, and a vampire. He must use all the knowledge that he acquires to fulfill his pivotal role in defeating the Jacks.

Reviewer's Name: 
Chris W.

Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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

"Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is about a student named Simon who is 17 and is closeted. He emails his unknown friend that goes by the fake name Blue frequently and also goes the fake name Jacques. Everything is fine, until Martin sees Simon's email one day in the library. Martin uses the emails as a way to blackmail him. Simon is forced to do everything Martin asks in order to keep his sexual orientation a secret from the outside world. Martin does terrible things to get what he wants which is a chance with Simon's friend Abby. While this is happening Simon becomes closer with Blue and eventually develops a crush on the unknown boy who goes to the same school. Many things happen between Martin and Simon but everything ends when Martin takes things too far. As a result of Martin's extreme act, he is forced to come out to everyone. Simon becomes even closer with Blue and things escalate to them knowing each other's identity. Blue and Simon end up dating in real life and everything ends happily despite the many issues Simon had to face with coming out and Martin.

I read this book because I had heard good things about the movie Love, Simon and wanted to read the book it was based off of. "Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" was an amazing book. I loved the LGBT+ representation. Simon's feelings were very real and relatable. I finished the book in a day because I enjoyed it that much. I would definitely recommend to anyone and I would definitely classify it as one of the top three books I have read this year.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Author: 
Collins, Suzanne
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In "The Hunger Games", sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her young sister's place in the cruel Hunger Games, an annual televised competition where children fight to the death until one remains. Although I'd watched all the movie adaptations before reading this book, I was still completely hooked. Everything about this book is absolutely fantastic -- the characters, the plot, the writing. The characters are complex and complicated, blurring the line between good and evil -- Katniss, in many ways, makes a phenomenal anti-hero. The plot moves quickly -- every chapter leaves on a cliffhanger, making it impossible to put the book down. The writing is succinct and gripping. The only criticism I could think of is that the beginning is a little slow, but it picks up very quickly from there. Everyone should read this book -- it's possibly one of the greatest books I've ever read. "The Hunger Games" is simply amazing.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gillian P.

Book Review: Woods Runner

Woods Runner
Author: 
Paulsen, Gary
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

When Samuel is just thirteen, he is already grown up. He is a man of the forest who enjoys being deep in the wilderness rather than around other people. He is an expert hunter and his neighbors rely on him to bring them fresh meat. From his neighbors, he and his family hear that a war is starting.

One day, while he is out hunting, he sees smoke coming from the direction of his house. He runs back to find almost everyone in his village dead. The few who were not killed were taken prisoner. Among those few left alive are Samuel’s parents. Now he must use woodsman skills to track down his parents. Finding allies and avoiding the enemy are key in the survival of himself and his parents.

Even though this book takes place during the war, it focuses more about Samuel’s journey to find his parents. It skims the surface on some of what happened during the battles, but more on Samuel’s problems and how he survived. I really enjoyed how, at the end of each chapter, the book explained a little bit about something that was in the war, whether it was the type of guns they used, some of the different jobs people had, etc.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ben C.

Book Review: Chinese Cinderella: the True Story of an Unwanted Daughter

Chinese Cinderella: the True Story of an Unwanted Daughter
Author: 
Mah, Adeline Yen
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The true story "Chinese Cinderella" is about a young Chinese girl named Adeline who faces the struggles of being unwanted and unloved. Adeline is seen as bad luck because her mother died after she was born. Her stepmother, Niang, hates her and favors all other siblings besides Adeline. Adeline achieves academic awards and good grades in hopes to make her family proud however they still see her as nothing. Throughout the book she faces many different problems all relating to her family mistreating her. Adeline is even sent to an orphanage at one point due to her friends coming to her house to throw a party for her. Not only does she face physical issues, but Adeline faces mental and emotional issues. Despite these issues, Adeline stays strong until the end and continues to try her best.

I read this book for a book report and was not at all disappointed."Chinese Cinderella" was sad but heartwarming. During multiple points in the book I cried. Adeline's feelings are very relatable and real. I thoroughly enjoyed the book."Chinese Cinderella" is in a genre of books I do not generally read however I was surprised and actually liked it. It is one of the best books I have read this year; I would definitely recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.
Awards: 

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 finishes off an exciting series that is one of the best of all time. In this book Harry finds out that he must kill Lord Voldemort and can only do so by finding his hidden Horcruxes. The book contains an astonishing ending and many characters fight for their lives. It also has twists, turns and plenty of action as Harry, Ron and Hermione run from Death Eaters on the quest to kill Voldemort. I would recommend this book for older readers and adults. Also, I would recommend reading the books before this one to understand what is going on in the story. It is an overall action-packed adventure.

Reviewer's Name: 
Miles

Book Review: The Giver

The Giver
Author: 
Lowry, Lois
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

In the story "The Giver", the main character Jonas lives in what he thinks to be an utopia until he receives knowledge that only him and another person in the community hold. With this knowledge he realizes that his community lacks so much that things must change. Jonas decides to rebel against the guidelines with the other person in the community that holds the information he does which is The Giver. Jonas leaves the community by simply walking out of the borderlines and as a result the community receives the change Jonas and The Giver wanted. The book does end on a cliffhanger, which I did not like and what happens to Jonas and his escape partner is not definite. I read this book because it was what we were reading for the unit at my school in advanced language arts. I did not like the book. I didn't like the characters or the setting. "The Giver" is in a genre of books that I do not usually read and I think that is why I was not fond of it. The characters are not relatable in my opinion but to other people they might be. The plot of "The Giver" was disappointing. In general I just really didn't care for the book, but it wasn't the worst book I have read this year.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: Bird Box

Bird Box
Author: 
Malerman, Josh
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Imagine, you are a mom who has had to raise her two kids in a world where going outside was a major undertaking. No! This world is not filled with the usual “monstrous suspects” you come to expect in horror novels, vampires, werewolves etc.. this evil is unseen and unknown. It can’t be known, for you see, the moment any person glimpses it, this “evil” drives them to unspeakable violence and shortly after, their own death. The world didn’t used to be like this, it used to be normal but since “the evil” infested our world, things have never been the same. This evil leaves no survivors, and no one can stop it because no one can see it. It simply is unbeatable.

Malorie and her two children live in this world where evil can ravage anyone if you were just to step outside. To protect her and her children she raises them and teaches herself, to live life almost completely blind with a blindfold on most of the time. They do the best they can, holed up in their home trying to survive. One day through their meager means of communication Mallorie hears of this place 20 miles downriver where her and her family might be safe. But only if they can get there. Malorie and her kids, soon after, set out on a harrowing and terrifying journey downriver, all while wearing blindfolds, that will test them in ways they couldn’t have imagine.

Mallerman creates a horrifying and terrifying experience for readers that will leave them continually guessing. The strength of this story is also what makes it the best kind of horror. It’s unknowable and theirs a mystery around every corner. It could be something that could turn out to be a monster or something that could help the hero’s on their journey. The tense and creepy atmosphere Mallerman creates from the character’s surroundings also adds to the overall terrifying and mysterious aura of the story. Add to this that the evil so talked about throughout the book, is never actually revealed. Mallerman does a brilliant job of revealing some things but not everything leaving the readers imagination to make up the rest. And that is the strength of this book really, it turns the readers mind against them. Highly original and so creepy this book is a solid five stars. Pick up this intense terrifying psychological horror story today. And check out the movie coming to Netflix this December. I promise you, you won’t regret it!

Reviewer's Name: 
Tawnie

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