Awards

The Simple Art of Flying
Leonardo, Cory
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The somewhat thick juvenile book- The Simple Art of Flying- is a good read with someone who loves imagining what our pets really think. Their 'secret side'.

Alastair, the African Grey parrot, lives a dull life inside a pet shop with his bright, eager sister, Aggie. This somewhat sarcastic, yet hilarious narrator is the real reason for the book's amazingness. One boy who helps out at the shop, aspiring doctor and/or vet, Fritz, takes a shine to Aggie. He starts saving up his money to buy her. She thinks that Fritz means to buy both of them, and Alastair doesn't have the heart to tell her otherwise. A little while after Aggie is taken home with Fritz, an eccentric old woman by the name of Albertina Plopky decides to adopt Alastair, though he is very much against it. The book is mostly about his time at her home, while he devises plans on how to go and get Aggie. The book had a few plot twists that made it all the more surprising and enjoyable. One quirky habit Alastair has that adds to the plot and style of the book is: he likes to eat paper. From books, posters, or newspapers, he eats it, and somehow senses what the words are saying, and the story behind the strip. A good read for a rainy afternoon.

Reviewer's Grade: 7th

Reviewer's Name: Ruby
Awards:
Genres:
The Giver book jacket
Lowry, Lois
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I picked The Giver by Lois Lowry because it is on the Skyview Middle School Battle of the Books list. All books from this list have been amazing, and this particular one has a main character with the same name as my brother: Jonas. I enjoyed hearing about their way of life, the simplicity yet complexity of it. I also liked how everyone knew when to apologize, and everything about their life and job. Each job in the Community is given to a person who seems they would enjoy it. However, as the book goes on, you see the compassion of the community, or lack thereof. This book was very surprising to me at first. But it was easy to guess what was going to happen in Chapter 20 after the events of Chapter 19. I do find it a not very relatable book, but it does remind me of history. Seemingly perfect, wealthy, kind countries with dark, gaping holes underneath the pretty exterior. The ending of this book, I feel, is incomplete. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

(Grade: 7)

Reviewer's Name: Ruby
The Giver book jacket
Lowry, Lois
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I picked The Giver by Lois Lowry because it is on the Skyview Middle School Battle of the Books list. All books from this list have been amazing, and this particular one has a main character with the same name as my brother: Jonas. I enjoyed hearing about their way of life, the simplicity yet complexity of it. I also liked how everyone knew when to apologize, and everything about their life and job. Each job in the Community is given to a person who seems they would enjoy it. However, as the book goes on, you see the compassion of the community, or lack thereof. This book was very surprising to me at first. But it was easy to guess what was going to happen in Chapter 20 after the events of Chapter 19. I do find it a not very relatable book, but it does remind me of history. Seemingly perfect, wealthy, kind countries with dark, gaping holes underneath the pretty exterior. The ending of this book, I feel, is incomplete. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

(Grade: 7)

Reviewer's Name: Ruby
The Giver book jacket
Lowry, Lois
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I picked The Giver by Lois Lowry because it is on the Skyview Middle School Battle of the Books list. All books from this list have been amazing, and this particular one has a main character with the same name as my brother: Jonas. I enjoyed hearing about their way of life, the simplicity yet complexity of it. I also liked how everyone knew when to apologize, and everything about their life and job. Each job in the Community is given to a person who seems they would enjoy it. However, as the book goes on, you see the compassion of the community, or lack thereof. This book was very surprising to me at first. But it was easy to guess what was going to happen in Chapter 20 after the events of Chapter 19. I do find it a not very relatable book, but it does remind me of history. Seemingly perfect, wealthy, kind countries with dark, gaping holes underneath the pretty exterior. The ending of this book, I feel, is incomplete. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

(Grade: 7)

Reviewer's Name: Ruby
Wings
Pike, Aprilynne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Wings focuses on a teenage girl, Laurel, who starts to experience strange magic-like events all during the first few months of her moving and going to a public school. When I saw the book, the hints of magic, romance, and the beautiful cover accompanied by the imagery in the synopsis really caught my attention. I did enjoy the romance aspects of the novel as it showed a wholesomeness of teenage couples and the friendship that led to it. Additionally, I enjoyed seeing Laurel grow more into the role of a strong protagonist by taking risks and learning to love, both herself and others. When reading Wings I found parts of the story to be interesting and adventurous, but kept to the trope of magic faeries and many main plot points were fairly predictable. Even though parts of the book seem to be predictable, I would still recommend it, as it is an interesting take on magic in our world with Laurel developing more as a protagonist throughout.

Reviewer's Name: Tisha
The Magician's Land
Grossman, Lev
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The final book of The Magicians trilogy follows Quentin back on Earth ready to take on a mission to steal a mysterious suit case along side other magically adept individuals, one being Plum, someone whom he knows from initial months after his expulsion from Fillory. Meanwhile, Eliot and Janet, along with new Fillorian royalty Josh and Poppy, work to save their world from destruction.
I really enjoyed this conclusion to this trilogy. The characters are given more depth (Janet makes her reappearance as an important character), storylines/loose ends from the previous books are solved or explained, and there are more perspectives rather than just Quentin. Seeing the story play out on both Earth and Fillory as they slowly come together near the end was a fun experience that wasn't shown in the other books due to their limited perspective.
The plot following Quentin and Plum was definitely a journey! Seeing the initial set up of the mission, the planning, and the execution and follow-up was deeply engaging. Not only were new things introduced, but it did a great job of creating its own story while connecting to previous storylines and the current plot with Fillory.
The events in Fillory were also fun, though they weren't as much of the story as Earth and didn't involve as much Josh and Poppy as I personally would have wanted. Regardless, this side of the story was also fun.
There were a few surprises that came up that were unexpected, but I'll leave them to you to see if you liked them or not.
Reader's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Antwaan
Genres:
The Magician's Land
Grossman, Lev
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The final book of The Magicians trilogy follows Quentin back on Earth ready to take on a mission to steal a mysterious suit case along side other magically adept individuals, one being Plum, someone whom he knows from initial months after his expulsion from Fillory. Meanwhile, Eliot and Janet, along with new Fillorian royalty Josh and Poppy, work to save their world from destruction.
I really enjoyed this conclusion to this trilogy. The characters are given more depth (Janet makes her reappearance as an important character), storylines/loose ends from the previous books are solved or explained, and there are more perspectives rather than just Quentin. Seeing the story play out on both Earth and Fillory as they slowly come together near the end was a fun experience that wasn't shown in the other books due to their limited perspective.
The plot following Quentin and Plum was definitely a journey! Seeing the initial set up of the mission, the planning, and the execution and follow-up was deeply engaging. Not only were new things introduced, but it did a great job of creating its own story while connecting to previous storylines and the current plot with Fillory.
The events in Fillory were also fun, though they weren't as much of the story as Earth and didn't involve as much Josh and Poppy as I personally would have wanted. Regardless, this side of the story was also fun.
There were a few surprises that came up that were unexpected, but I'll leave them to you to see if you liked them or not.
Reader's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Antwaan
Genres:
We Were Liars
Lockhart, E.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The average reviews for this book are lower than usual, but it really surprised me. The story felt like a true story and dystopian and fiction all at once, not to mention the plot twist. The setting of an isolated vacation island set the background for a unique storyline between a few families with dark secrets. I enjoyed the main characters' personalities too, though there were some comments they made about homophobia and racism that were kind of weird and sounded like the author didn't do much research about the LGBTQ+ and POC communities. It was very entertaining still, and I would recommend it if you need a suspenseful story to read quickly.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
We Were Liars
Lockhart, E.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The average reviews for this book are lower than usual, but it really surprised me. The story felt like a true story and dystopian and fiction all at once, not to mention the plot twist. The setting of an isolated vacation island set the background for a unique storyline between a few families with dark secrets. I enjoyed the main characters' personalities too, though there were some comments they made about homophobia and racism that were kind of weird and sounded like the author didn't do much research about the LGBTQ+ and POC communities. It was very entertaining still, and I would recommend it if you need a suspenseful story to read quickly.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
This Is Where It Ends
Nijkamp, Marieke
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

This Is Where It Ends follows four students who recount their perspectives going through a school shooting at Opportunity High. Initially, I was intrigued to read this book since it covers a very sensitive topic and is a topic that I was interested in learning more about. However, the novel completely missed all my expectations. Instead of a thoughtful, heavily researched, realistic story, I got a novel that seemed to be an insult to any school shooting victim. The novel was way too action-packed, in such a way that every single plot point in the book seemed wildly exaggerated. Making it worse, the school shooter in the novel was way too villainized. With cheesy lines and no real reasoning behind his actions, the author made it seem like the shooter was some kind of superhero comic villain, with no other drive for his actions besides to incite fear in others. There was no psychological deep dive into why the shooter, a previous student in the school, ended up in the way he did, and why he thought his only solution to his problems was to murder his classmates. It was a shame to read such a novel meant to address a major problem in America, but was instead contorted and desensitized in a way to appeal to the entertainment industry, and failed to have any educational value at all. To put it shortly, This Is Where It Ends seems more of an action-thriller novel, not one that is meant to be taken seriously at all.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
A Court of Thorns and Roses
Maas, Sarah J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book had me completely hooked! It almost follows the plot of Beauty and the Beast but in its own world with its own complex characters. Feyre's determination and strength was incredible to see in a female character. Not only is she the main character and heroin but she carries real and deep emotions. In addition to this, I love Tamlin and his court. Sarah J Mass's descriptions are in depth and I felt like I was really in the room experiencing everything as it happened. The end had my head spinning and I could not wait for the next book.

Reviewer's Name: Samantha
A Court of Thorns and Roses
Maas, Sarah J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book had me completely hooked! It almost follows the plot of Beauty and the Beast but in its own world with its own complex characters. Feyre's determination and strength was incredible to see in a female character. Not only is she the main character and heroin but she carries real and deep emotions. In addition to this, I love Tamlin and his court. Sarah J Mass's descriptions are in depth and I felt like I was really in the room experiencing everything as it happened. The end had my head spinning and I could not wait for the next book.

Reviewer's Name: Samantha
Shadow and Bone book jacket
Bardugo, Leigh
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Shadow and Bone contains many complex themes. It held my attention; I couldnt put it down. I fell in love with the characters. They are all complex and maintain that complexity throughout the story. Until the end that is. I was unimpressed with the ending. It felt like Alina went against her own moral code to "win" that final fight. It felt forced and quite frankly, anticlimactic. It just didn't fit.

Reviewer's Name: Samantha
Shadow and Bone book jacket
Bardugo, Leigh
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Shadow and Bone contains many complex themes. It held my attention; I couldnt put it down. I fell in love with the characters. They are all complex and maintain that complexity throughout the story. Until the end that is. I was unimpressed with the ending. It felt like Alina went against her own moral code to "win" that final fight. It felt forced and quite frankly, anticlimactic. It just didn't fit.

Reviewer's Name: Samantha
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:
Chomp book jacket
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is a book that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. I've read it every year since I was in elementary school, and it's a great story about kids standing up to nonsensical adults in a humorous yet adventurous way. Wahoo is an observant, level-headed character who contrasts with his father's personality well. I also love the girl Tuna because she is brave for everyone except herself, which is such an interesting character trope to follow. There's a great message of the negative impacts of media, such as reality television, and finding beauty in unconventional things. It is a quick read that will stick with you for a long time.

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Chomp book jacket
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is a book that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. I've read it every year since I was in elementary school, and it's a great story about kids standing up to nonsensical adults in a humorous yet adventurous way. Wahoo is an observant, level-headed character who contrasts with his father's personality well. I also love the girl Tuna because she is brave for everyone except herself, which is such an interesting character trope to follow. There's a great message of the negative impacts of media, such as reality television, and finding beauty in unconventional things. It is a quick read that will stick with you for a long time.

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
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
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
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