All Book Reviews by Genre: Biography/Memoir

 Running for My Life
Lomong, Lopez
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Lopez Lomong is a phenomenal runner. When he runs, he feels as though he is free and it is the one thing that gives him immense amounts of joy. However, Lopez didn't always start out in the spotlight. In fact, his story begins in a South Sudanese war camp. "Running For My Life" is the incredible story of one boys journey from awful refugee camps to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This nonfiction story is told through Lopez himself making it a thrilling autobiography. I personally love this book because my brother was an Eritrean refugee and when he came to America, he got a scholarship for running. I don't know what it is about that particular sport, but it definitely changes lives as shown through Lomong's book. Even if you are not a fan or sports or running, "Running For My Life" teaches valuable lessons and helps us to empathize with others. It shows that love can be found everywhere in the world. Trust me when I say that you will not be bored with this book. Lopez constantly has a good attitude in life even if his best meal of the week is eating out of a trash heap (which actually happens in his refugee camp). Lopez goes with his friends to watch the Olympics on T.V at a rich man's house back in South Sudan. He sees a man holding the flag of America, tears streaming down his happy face. From that moment, Lopez decides that he wants to be that man. He wants to win an Olympic race and make his country proud. I mean he already has the running skills considering that the boys in the refugee camp have to run 18 miles in order to go play soccer!
Lopez has a spiritual journey throughout his life and his faith never wavers. Three older boys helped Lopez escape a war camp when he was six. When they got to safety, the boys disappeared. Lopez is convinced that the boys who helped him were angels. This story like no other will move you and inspire you to follow your dreams. Lomong proves that no matter who you are or where your from, you can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.

Reviewer's Name: Megan T.
Unbroken
Hillenbrand, Laura
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Unbroken, is a book of suffering, friendship, strength, and journey's throughout life. The story takes place in the Pacific War of WW2, following the struggle of Louie Zamperini. Louie's life starts out "untameable" drinking, stealing, and running from the cops at the early age of 10, he cause quite the mischief in his home town of Torrance, California. Later on in high school Louie is going down the wrong path, until his brother turns him around and sets him on the path of becoming an Olympic runner. Louie runs in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and places 8th. Next thing you know World War Two breaks out, Louie joins the Army Air Corp and becomes a bombardier of a b-24 plane.

Next in the story, whilst on a rescue mission the "Green Hornet" a faulty B-24 crashes into the pacific ocean, taking Louie and his flight crew with it. Mac, Phil, and Louie survive the initial plane crash and face many challenges at sea. Mac dies along the way, but Louie and Phil survive 47 days at sea before being captured by the Japanese. Phil and Louie are quickly put into a Japanese p.o.w camp, where they are abused, tortured, overworked, and starved.

To avoid spoilers, I won't go further into the story, and if Louie and Phil survive or not. I HIGHLY recommend this book, it's a great eye opener for PTSD, and the Pacific side of WWII, along with intense suspense, struggle, and development of the main characters. Laura Hillenbrand does a great job or portraying this hero and survivor's story.

Reviewer's Name: Payton
Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau
Berne, Jennifer
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This biography of Jacques Cousteau uses beautiful pictures to illustrate the text. It introduces us to the tiny baby born in France and names Jacques. It chronicles his love of water and how his passion for the ocean developed. It shows us how he dreamed to becoming a “manfish” with the ability to breathe underwater and explore. He grew to be one of the greatest oceanographers in the world and a champion of the sea. The book is both inspiring and magical.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Awards:
Maus II: A Survivor's Tale
Spiegelman, Art
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Maus II, the sequel/continuation to Maus, continues the story of Vladek Spiegelman told by his son in the form of a comic book. This book is amazing because, just like the first, it uses an animal metaphor to easily show the reader who is who in the story. Maus II takes a darker turn because Vladek is now in the depths of Aushwitz. I love these books and their creative outlook on the War and the Holocaust. No other historical book has made me this intrigued and want to continue reading.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Maus
Spiegelman, Art
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Maus 1 is a fascinating graphic history of the Holocaust and what Jewish people went through. Artist Art Spiegelman uses a variety of metaphors to depict his fathers experience as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust. I found this book incredible because it uses an animal metaphor like Animal Farm to give a deeper insight into the story. This graphic history, much like a graphic novel, uses lights and darks, white and black, and special images to draw the reader in and help them understand the hardships Vladek Spiegelman faced. I loved this book and think it is a must read book for everyone.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Night
Wiesel, Elie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Night, by Elie Wiesel, tells of the story of the main protagonist Eliezer and the many tragedies he faced in German concentration camps during World War II. The protagonist narrates the entire book in a first-person and unbiased manner, which exposes the emotional truth of the Holocaust and provides an autobiography of the real author’s experience during the war. Eliezer, the main protagonist and counter part to the real Elie Wiesel, is forced to approach his ever-changing relationship with friends and family, many conflicts and struggles, and a plethora of situations that threaten his existence throughout the book. His reactions to these various obstacles exhibit the Holocaust survivor’s unique traits that set him apart from other Protagonists. Like Eliezer, every character in the book is developed fully with vivid traits that the real Elie remembers about them. The autobiography is fascinating and tells a compelling story while informing the reader about what really happened during the Holocaust, and I would reccomend it to anyone.

Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Awards:
American Sniper
Kyle, Chris
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

American Sniper is the biography of the most lethal sniper in the United States military, who was apart of the United States Navy SEALs. The biography encompasses the story of Chris Kyle, to which it describes the story of both his military tours and his own personal/civilian life. This autobiography adheres towards the intriguing events that Kyle experienced within his life.

American Sniper was a very well written book that did a great job describing the embellishments and challenges that Kyle faced, when he was a SEAL or just a civilian. Personally, the book is one of the best that surpasses many other titles that I have read. I highly recommend it to other readers.

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Awards:
Racing to the Finish: My Story Dale Earnhardt Jr. with Ryan McGee
Earnhardt Jr., Dale
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Many know the name Dale Earnhardt Jr. but you don’t need be a fan of his or even a race fan to enjoy (or listening to, as I did) this book. It’s an eye opening perspective of cause, effect, and recovery from concussions of a driver who suffered many in his career. Athletes of all ages and every contact sport and our military are suffering concussions every day and are struggling with the symptoms. Mr. Earnhardt frankly discusses his stubbornness over admitting he had an issue and the inner struggle between his career, family, fans and team. He brings up the advances in concussion recovery over a time and the advances in the therapies to aid in the recovery.

Reviewer's Name: Robin H.
Professor at Large: The Cornell Years
Cleese, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As a John Cleese fan, it was fun to be able to learn of another of his endeavors - serving as a Professor at Large at Cornell for 10 years! The texts in the book are a collection of some of his lectures over the years. They, of course, elaborate on many of his performance experiences but they also provide a broader view of his other interests.

All the Monty Python group are intelligent and creative, so it is no surprise that Cleese's intellect has been engaged on many fronts over the years. He is also much like his character in comedy in not suffering fools gladly or otherwise. I was pleased to note that he became quite involved in many different schools of learning while on the Cornell campus, and contributed to the thinking of both students and staff.

There is some repetition of topic, but as the student body would experience a turnover over the years, I would expect that important topics would emerge again anyway.

This was a fun and informative read. Since it was a series of lectures, it was easy to pick up and put down without losing the gist of things.

Reviewer's Name: Catherine
Becoming
Obama, Michelle
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In Becoming, former First Lady Michelle Obama shares the journey of her humble roots growing up in the South Side of Chicago to becoming First Lady of the United States. The book paints a picture of a woman who has struggled with the question "Am I good enough?" for much of her life, but has persevered through her doubts. It also gives a picture of Barack Obama's political aspirations and rise to the Presidency. Even for those who disagree with Obama's politics, the book depicts the portrait of a man who entered politics because he truly desired and believed he could make the US a better place to live, and shows both Barack & Michelle Obama's commitment to public service. In that sense, it prompts the reader to stop & consider, what are my core values, and what am I fighting for to make the world a better place? It's an inspiring read when considered through this lens.

Reviewer's Name: Carrie
Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio
Kehret, Peg
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio" by Peg Kehret is an interesting autobiography that gives insight to what people with Polio experienced. The main character, Peg, faints one day during school and has a high temperature so she is taken to the hospital. There she is diagnosed with Polio. This news is devastating to Peg and her family but Peg's family decides to stay positive while Peg is sad. Throughout her journey Peg gets better with the support of her parents.

I would recommend this book. "Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio" is sad but also heartwarming at times. I read this book because it is a battle book. I couldn't relate to any of the characters, however the emotions Peg felt could be related to a lot of other people. The book isn't predictable at all. It is not the best book I have read this year but I would still recommend this book as it is still good.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Irena's Children
Mazzeo, Tilar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book tells the true story of Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who saved 2,500 children during the purging of Jewish people from Warsaw during World War II. This book details the trials and tribulations faced not only by Irena but the people and children of Warsaw. The underground network formed by Irena and her many friends allowed thousands of children to be placed with different families and continue living rather than being sent to German camps. I was truly awed by the courage described in this book and the measures taken by the people of Warsaw to save the lives of children who weren't even theirs or their friends. The horrors of World War II are indescribable but the necessity of remembering it is imperative, especially when stories like this are nearly unheard of

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Chinese Cinderella: the True Story of an Unwanted Daughter
Mah, Adeline Yen
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:
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
Mosca, Julia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Do you ever feel different from the people around you? Are you struggling
with figuring out how you fit in? If so, read the story of Temple Grandin.
Although struggling with autism, her unique way of thinking allowed her to
become an amazing scientist who invented farm improvements used around the
world. This biography, set it rhyme, encourages all to STAND TALL.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Hazelet's Journal
Hazelet, George Cheever
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This review is really about a spread of books I found or was able to access through PPLD. After an enjoyable visit to Skagway, AK, I became interested in Klondike Gold Rush history. Through the PPLD catalog and an interlibrary loan I accessed: Hazelet's Journal by George Cheever Hazelet: If you enjoy history from original sources, this book will draw you in as the author writes honestly about a business failure that led him to seek gold in Alaska. The arduous travels searching for gold are documented both by journal and amazing photographs. It is a slow read for someone who enjoys more of a "story." Although Cheever fails in the gold rush, as well, the stage was set for eventual successes that were instrumental in Alaska frontier development.

Journey (fiction) by James Michener: A quick read that will be more enjoyable to the reader looking for a story within the historical background of the gold rush. Four Englishmen and an Irishman push their way across Canada to Dawson City, fulfilling the image of the phrase "Mad dogs and Englishmen."

Gold! The Klondike Adventure by Delia Ray: Young Adult book that provides an easy-to-read purview with photographs of the rush, perils, commercialism, and subculture that arose between Skagway and Dawson City. Prospectors and merchants alike sought riches on the Alaskan frontier within a very short timeframe: 1897-1900.

Klondike Fever by Pierre Berton: Subtitled The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush, this book provides an exhaustive and interesting read about the gold rush from many different angles. This book was accessed through an interlibrary loan. However, the book was so old it was not pleasant to read so I am hoping PPLD will purchase a new edition. It is a very good book!

Reviewer's Name: Rita
Live Fearless: A Call to Power, Passion, and Purpose
Robertson, Sadie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"It's not that things aren't scary. They are, and they will continue to be. But each of us has to come to a deep, personal realization that God has already conquered fear - and by the power of His Spirit we can live completely free from fear."

Daughter of the star from Duck Dynasty, Sadie Robertson shares her personal testimony of overcoming fear and anxiety while she was a teen. Fear, anxiety, and depression are just a few struggles that teens deal with today, so through personal stories of her experiences on Dancing With the Stars, Winter Jam, and growing up as a celebrity, along with interactive questions, helpful Bible verses, and challenges, Sadie demonstrates for us how to be rid of our fear through the power of Jesus Christ. She also shows us how to embrace our individual purposes and pursue our passions, ignoring and putting away the fear that's trying to hold us back. As Sadie discusses in her book, sometimes our fear can become SO great, that it causes us to miss out on amazing opportunities and fulfilling our full potential. So if you're tired of having fear hold you back from things you are longing to do, I strongly recommend this book to you!!
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Ella S.
Book Review: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Thompson, Hunter S.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was fantastic! It takes you on a drug-fueled, depraved, whirlwind tour of Las Vegas with Raoul Duke (Thompson) and his attorney. The sheer amount and variety of drugs ingested was enough to blow my mind, not to mention the shenanigans that occur as a result. There were some instances of depravity that curled my toes, but the ride was well worth it. Gonzo journalism rocks!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Into the Wild
Krakauer, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Into the Wild is a nonfiction narrative of the life of Christopher McCandless, a man who ventured into the wilderness of Alaska to live a self-sustained life. At first, I thought this book was awfully dry, but I soon warmed up to Krakauer's writing style. In fact, Into the Wild ended up being so thrilling and intriguing that I couldn't put it down. The best part of this book is the inspiration it provides. It talks about McCandless's reasons for leaving civilization behind, and it also mentions many transcendentalist authors. I now love nonfiction adventure. Everyone should read this book.

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
El Deafo
Bell, Cece
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is full of so much character it's so hard to stop reading, and it's also an easy book to read because it's a graphic novel.This book tells so much story of this girls problems she goes through, the pros and the cons.

Reviewer's Name: Delaney
Book Review: Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved
Bowler, Kate
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

It's been a little while since I've read this book. It's about a professor who has written and researched the 'prosperity gospel', is diagnosed with cancer, and struggles to reconcile the two. The best part about the book was the appendix which talks about what and what not to do when interacting with someone going through a trauma. I read this book while a friend of mine was dying of cancer. I wish I had the opportunity to utilize the advice in this book to comfort her.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn

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