Adult Book Reviews

Legendary Children
Fitzgerald, Tom (Thomas)
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you're looking to get educated on LGBTQ+ history, this is a great book to try. I loved hearing about some of the most influential figures of the LGBTQ+ movement and their impact on others. They persevered even through backlash from events like the AIDS epidemic and built a community where everyone is welcome to be themselves. Some parts can get slow to read, but the authors use modern language and humor to appeal to a variety of audiences and make history more entertaining. This book is so empowering, give it a try!

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
And Then There Were None
Christie, Agatha
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

And Then There Were None is one of the best that I have ever read. I loved watching the characters, especially because of the incredible detail that Agatha Christie used to describe them and their unique personalities. They all seem real to me. The book itself was ingenious, incorporating suspense and making every character a plausible suspect and a possible victim. I found myself turning back pages to get the facts again and again, without having a clue as to who was the murderer. I recommend this book for ages 13+ as all of the details and situations can be extremely hard to process.

Reviewer's Name: Kelsey
The Magician King book jacket
Grossman, Lev
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The second book of The Magicians trilogy continues with Quentin, Julia, Eliot, and Janet as kings and queens of Fillory before a quest throws Quentin and Julia back to Earth, and that quest being a snippet of a bigger problem for all magicians.
I enjoyed this book better than the first one. The world is more fleshed out, the plot is more interesting, and characters are more fleshed out (Quentin remains more or less the same to me, though). The biggest aspect of the book to me is Julia. In the first book, she is rarely shown and when she is, there is zero context on what was going on with her. In this installment, we get to see her backstory and her current character as the book oscillates between the current conflict and Julia's story during the events of The Magicians. Seeing her change and how it affects her (especially at the end of the book) is such a pivotal point of her dynamic with Quentin, as well as a driving force for the plot and world building (remember hedge witches?).
Other characters from the first book make their reappearance, along with some new ones, which bring some new life into the story . However, one character is largely excluded: Janet. While she appears in the beginning, she is left off the majority of the story. While the story doesn't necessarily need her, being a key character in the first book and a queen of the setting of the story, it would have been nice to see her more within the pages.
This a definitely a good edition to the series, and with the ending and some loose ends, I wonder how the final book will tie everything together.
Reader's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Antwaan
Genres:
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
Larson, Erik
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This is a compelling story of the popular World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the serial killer who took advantage of it. Set in the late 1800's, David Burnham and H. H. Holmes receive equal attention in alternating chapters between the fair's fascinating architecture and the growth of a heartless killer. I liked reading about the trials and errors of the fair and technology in the 19th century. Also, Holmes' terrifyingly calm demeanor added suspense to what would happen to his victims. It is a cool turn-of-the-century book, but the shift between monotone construction and graphic murders was an interesting style that isn't for everyone.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Simply Philosophy
Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2021
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Simply Philosophy is a collection of different ideas and concepts about a ton of topics, also showing different points of view.
This book remains one of my favorites because it takes ideas from famous philosophers in history, and then explains them in ways that are easier to understand. It uses helpful graphics and real-life examples to explain detailed concepts. One of the ideas I liked the most was from René Descartes, explaining why humans can never be sure that anything except their consciousness exists. The book was also very organized, putting similar ideas in the same sections.

Reviewer's Name: Kelsey
Genres:
Hamlet
Shakespeare, William
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Hamlet by William Shakespeare is a play that was wrote in the 1600’s. The play starts off with the death of Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet, and the mystery of how he died. Hamlet feels that he should avenge his father, but never acts on the way he feels. He continues this habit in his relationships causing them to be full of mistrust and in the end, betrayal. This play contains many themes that teach a big lesson that individuals can apply to their lives today. I recommend this book to anybody that wants a murder mystery with multiple plots twists.

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Jewish Transport to Auschwitz
Macadam, Heather Dune
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I wavered between a 4 and 5 star review here, but my reviews are based on storytelling ability, not necessarily how little I enjoyed hearing about the details of Auschwitz. This author did a fantastic job of telling the stories of nearly 1,000 women while letting some of their personal accounts lead the pace and tone. Though the characters were hard to keep track of at some points, there was constant clarification of individuals to develop empathy for the girls in the Holocaust. There was also some groundbreaking information on the sexist disparities between records of the female experience in Auschwitz- as soon as you think life couldn't have been worse for these prisoners, it is revealed that women were treated the absolute worst. Definitely worth the read if you can stomach the tragedy.

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
The Ex Talk
Solomon, Rachel Lynn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a delightful book with great diversity and a unique topic of life on the radio. I loved how Shay and Dominic's personalities complimented each other throughout the story, especially as Shay experienced misogyny and the two worked to combat it. The romance was light-hearted and side conflicts like grief were refreshing to hear about. One thing I disliked, though, was Shay's reaction to an age gap of five years between her and Dominic. She constantly threw in "old jokes" and generational-gap comments despite them both pretty much being millennials. It made the age gap more of an issue than it would have been without such dialogue and even contradicted the author's message against unfair gender norms. Would an age gap like this have been discussed if Dominic was the older one? Other than that, this book got me back into NPR and podcasts so I recommend this any day!
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
1984 book jacket
Orwell, George
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

1984 is kind of a dystopian novel written in the 1940's about the 1980s. It's not the "Hunger Games" type of novel (which I also don't really like), where a bunch of teenagers overthrow the corrupt government. It's about a middle aged man living in a society where a Stalin-like figure rules. It is kind of a depressing book, and for the most part is kind of slow and uneventful. Overall, while this book makes some interesting points, I don't know if I would recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Emani
Songbirds
Lefteri, Christy
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Songbirds is about the disappearance of domestic workers in Cyprus--women who had no choice but to leave their families in Sri Lanka or Vietnam or the Philippines and find work as maids in the homes of Cyprus's wealthy class. Nisha, whom the story centers on, is a Sri Lankan woman who has faced much loss. She comes to Cyprus, leaving her daughter behind, and becomes a mother figure for Aliki, the daughter of a somber, grieving widow named Petra. Though Nisha has such an impact on the people around her, especially Petra and Aliki, she is merely seen as a maid, overlooked, taken for granted. In a parallel plot line, Yiannis is a poacher who hunts songbirds for a living. He and Nisha have a secret relationship, which would jeopardize everything if discovered by Petra, and when he finally tells Nisha about the poaching, she is deeply disappointed in him, though Yiannis doesn't stop his senseless killing of songbirds. One night, Nisha goes missing. What ensues is a long, agonizing search in which the police refuse to do anything and Petra begins to realize that she relied on Nisha for nearly everything and didn't appreciate her while she was there. Petra and Yiannis team up, determined to find out what happened.
In my opinion, this story could've been told so much better. The metaphor of the songbirds was far too loud and became redundant and irritating. Lefteri could've more effectively woven together the plot lines of Petra and Yiannis without being so blunt with her metaphor. However, I did find it very interesting--and saddening--to learn about the missing domestic workers of Cyprus. Just as in The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Lefteri brings to light real issues that go beyond news coverage and should be talked about but somehow aren't. These maids are just as human as anyone, having sacrificed lives in their home countries for the benefit of their families. I would have enjoyed this novel more if the pacing had been faster and the plot hadn't been so repetitive; the characters also weren't the most likable.
I wouldn't necessary recommend this book, but the premise is worth knowing.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
Hugo, Victor
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is an early 1800s novel following the trials and tribulations of several characters living in 15th century Paris. Quasimodo, the famous hunchback, struggles with his unrequited feelings for the mesmerizing dancer Esmeralda, and competes with other characters to win her love. This story is likely best for ages 14+, since it has some difficult words and is written in an old-fashioned style. I believe the heartfelt and memorable ending is the best part of this book, and recommend it to anyone looking for an exceptional classic!
Reviews Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Audrey
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This Book Is truly a classic, this I book that we've all read either as a assignment or for fun. This book was set in the Jazz era of New York, this novel tells the story of a self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby and journey to finding the love of his life Daisy Buchanan who also is a very wealthy women. In this novel we start out with a man named Nick who is also Daisy's cousin, he is basically the narrator of it all. He walks us through how he met Jay, and their journey finding daisy. Throughout this story we go through happiness, loss, and love, and it all unfolds out to be a really great novel. So if you like a tragic love story, I think this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: Makaia
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Animal Farm by George Orwell is a novel following a group of farm animals who want to topple their human farmer's regime, creating a society that is perfect for themselves. While Animal Farm starts off a bit ridiculous, using pigs and other farm animals as the main characters of the story, I think that Orwell using farm animals to explain the message of his story was actually very imaginative, and made the story much more intriguing and unique. Since Animal Farm's main theme is about revolution and the obstruction of democracy, I enjoyed analyzing the symbolism that was placed in the novel, seeing the hidden parallels between the farm animals and the historical events that were occurring during that time. I liked being able to link events from the story to real historical events, such as the communist movement, the Soviet Union, and World War 2. Personally, I think that Orwell's technique in linking his novel to these historical events by using only symbolism was very creative and was written in a very thoughtful and intelligent way. Seeing how some of the book events contrasted with historical events was very strange and interesting for me, and it made me wonder how Orwell could have even thought of linking the two subject matters by only using farm animals.
Overall, I would recommend this classic novel to anyone who is open to an interesting and thought-provoking read.

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Awards:
Pride and Prejudice
Austen, Jane
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Pride and Prejudice is an 1813 classic novel that follows Elizabeth Bennett, an outspoken and bold woman for her time, and her journey through romance with Mr. Darcy, an anti-social and cold man. I really enjoyed this novel, and although the plot sounds pretty generic, I found myself falling in love with the characters. I especially liked seeing Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's romance unfold, and the clear chemistry between them was also exciting to read about. Both of the characters were well written and I liked the enemies-to-lovers trope the novel followed. Seeing Mr. Darcy opening up and being able to understand why he was the way he was, was also very satisfying.
Overall, this classic novel is a classic for a good reason, and for anyone who enjoys a good healthy romance, with actual depth, Pride and Prejudice is the book for you.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Binti book jacket
Okorafor, Nnedi
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you're a fan of science fiction novels like I am, and you love to see a good book with a diverse lead, you have to check out Binti! Following the story of a young girl with strong cultural ties, Binti is going to study at the prestigious Oozma Uni, but when the Meduse attack, she has to stay strong. The story is amazing but can get confusing at a few points, however, the imagery expressed within the novel is gorgeous. You can visualize everything in your mind as you read, and the storyline itself is one that will leave you thinking about it for hours. Binti also is one of the only novels of its kind in a subgenre of science fiction known as africanfuturism, a twist on afrofuturism where instead of being set in North America or another country, it is set in Africa. If you're looking for a quick sci-fi read with a gorgeous diverse lead and beautiful imagery along with a fascinating plot, you have to check out Binti.

Reviewer's Name: Alexis
The Spanish Love Deception
Armas, Elena
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I'm normally all for an enemies-to-lovers rom-com book with good diversity, but this book did not do it for me. For such a lengthy read, there was no substance and Catalina was constantly repeating herself. The story involves Catalina needing a date to her sister's wedding in Mexico and agreeing to take her work enemy, Aaron Blackford. First of all, Aaron had no personality. A tall, ominous Caucasian man with dark hair is really the only description. The banter was alright, but became boring and repetitive after a while. Then, all of Catalina's internal dialogue discussed this wedding, which only got a couple pages of description when it finally happened! But what bothered me most was how the entire book revolved around this pity party for Catalina. It was interesting to read about this (unfortunately) common occurrence that a couple with an age gap or existing in a professional setting tends to be accepted only for males, but this message could have had a better reach if the main character wasn't complaining every other page that her life was completely ruined, even years later, by this misogynistic disparity. She even clarified that she took a new job offer because of the experience, not because she was trying to escape. However, the author contradicted this statement by devoting most of the book to a "feel bad for me" mindset. Readers will empathize more with the main character if they aren't guilt-tripping everyone. Less is more!

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Lightning Strike
Krueger, William Kent
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Lightning Strike is an excellent thriller. Cork O’Connor lives in his hometown of Aurora. Everything is normal and is going smoothly, until Cork discovers a dead man in the forest. It is deemed as a suicide. But Cork and his father have their own suspicions. Can they uncover the truth before it’s too late? I liked the setting and enjoyed the suspense. I chose this book because the book jacket captured my attention, and I wanted to find out what happens next. Cork O’Connor is curious about what took place, and also is great young sleuth. I appreciate Cork’s determination to solve the mystery. Lightning Strike was a great read and I would highly recommend it.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
How 'Bout Them Cowboys
Myers, Gary
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

How ‘Bout Them Cowboys is a great sports book. It gives a detailed description into the inner workings of arguably one of the greatest sports franchise’s. This book contains fantastic football stories and interviews with the Cowboys owner, former players, and fans of “America’s Team.” I really enjoyed learning about the history of the Cowboys. And I chose this book because I am a huge football fan. I would recommend this book to any sports fan who wants to learn more about the football business. Throughout this book, I could sense the loyalty and commitment that great players feel to their Dallas Cowboys.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Last Girl Ghosted
Unger, Lisa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Last Girl Ghosted was a great read. A young woman named Wren frequently does online dating. She meets a charming young man named Adam. Wren thinks Adam is the perfect match, until he completely goes cold turkey. Wren is baffled and completely heartbroken, until she finds out Adam has done the same exact thing to other women. And not just that, but Adam has a long history of being with women who later go missing. Can Wren quickly find out who Adam really is before it is too late? I chose this book because it’s a thriller and the plot seemed interesting. This book is full of surprises and will keep the reader interested throughout the whole book. Last Girl Ghosted goes in depth about the darkside of online dating and the Internet. I really liked the suspense and the countless cliffhangers. I would highly recommend reading this book.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Confessions on the 7:45
Unger, Lisa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Confessions on the 7:45 was an excellent read. Selena barely makes the 745 train home, when she sits next to a strange woman whom she she makes an instant connection. This is when Selena confessed that her husband is having an affair with the nanny. And the strange woman listens and relates to Selena’s confession. Shortly after this train ride home the nanny goes missing. And a police investigation is launched. Was Selena’s husband involved? Or did does change woman have anything to do with? This book is a gripping novel that focuses on marriage and revenge. I picked this book because the book jacket seemed interesting. Confessions on the 745 is full of plot twists and will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I really enjoyed the plot twists and the in depth descriptions of the character’s personality’s. I would highly recommend this book.

Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Ananth