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Award Book Reviews

The Long Earth
Pratchett, Terry and Stephen Baxter
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Having read a few of Sir Terry Pratchett's books before, I am no stranger to the randomness of his writing style. Usually, he has some character or object that just doesn’t fit in a normal narrative, but he manages to work it in with an explanation that’s both natural and makes sense. However, this only works if Pratchett has control over the entire story. Unfortunately, as is the case in The Long Earth, the randomness that Pratchett brings to the table sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the mostly sci-fi story. For instance, does an artificial intelligence have to be a reincarnated Tibetan motorcycle repairman? If you want to take the story seriously, probably not.

In the end, this book seems to be mostly written by Stephen Baxter, with only a smattering of Pratchett’s charm thrown in occasionally for levity. I haven’t read any of Baxter’s other books, but I’m not sure if I’d want to, considering how The Long Earth was put together. First off, the entire book seems to be an exposition dump about “stepping,” which is the process wherein people can move from one parallel universe into another. None of the narratives seems dedicated to anything in particular. With no goal in mind, the story will often get distracted away from the main character during little vignettes that explore some of the potentials of the multiverse theory presented therein.

I did appreciate the amount of thought that went into the limitations and peculiarities of stepping between parallel Earths, but when that’s the only focus of the book, it tended to get repetitive. So often, I’d be listening to this audiobook and realize that there wasn’t much dialogue between these characters; they were mostly spewing out more explanation about the Long Earth in a series of expository dumps of information.

A book full of sci-fi exposition, I give The Long Earth 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
Briar Rose
Yolen, Jane
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Based in modern day America, this novel tells the story of a girl trying to discover her grandmother's past after hearing the story of Briar Rose for many years. After her grandmother dies with her last words being, "Promise me you will find the castle. Promise me you will find the prince. Promise me you will find the maker of the spells," Becca will not give up looking for her grandmother's lost origins. She goes through the contents in the box left to her relentlessly, until she finds the name "Kulmhof" on a piece of paper. Becca proceeds to make some calls, and finally takes a trip to Poland where she meets a certain Josef Potocki. Josef then reveals to Becca the story of her grandmother's past. It was a brutal and ruthless history of origin occurring during the Holocaust.

Even though the book was quite interesting and definitely kept me reading, there was some content I personally found disturbing. Most of this content consists of Josef Potocki being openly and quite obviously gay and a gay and lesbian agenda being enforced throughout the entire book. There was also a brief description of a sexual encounter between Josef and one of his former gay lovers that was completely disgusting.

Overall, I could not stop reading this book and found it very intriguing! The three stars is because of the unnecessary LGBTQ references and sexual encounter. If not for those few things, this book would have been downright amazing.

Reviewer's Name: Ella S.
Briar Rose
Yolen, Jane
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Based in modern day America, this novel tells the story of a girl trying to discover her grandmother's past after hearing the story of Briar Rose for many years. After her grandmother dies with her last words being, "Promise me you will find the castle. Promise me you will find the prince. Promise me you will find the maker of the spells," Becca will not give up looking for her grandmother's lost origins. She goes through the contents in the box left to her relentlessly, until she finds the name "Kulmhof" on a piece of paper. Becca proceeds to make some calls, and finally takes a trip to Poland where she meets a certain Josef Potocki. Josef then reveals to Becca the story of her grandmother's past. It was a brutal and ruthless history of origin occurring during the Holocaust.

Even though the book was quite interesting and definitely kept me reading, there was some content I personally found disturbing. Most of this content consists of Josef Potocki being openly and quite obviously gay and a gay and lesbian agenda being enforced throughout the entire book. There was also a brief description of a sexual encounter between Josef and one of his former gay lovers that was completely disgusting.

Overall, I could not stop reading this book and found it very intriguing! The three stars is because of the unnecessary LGBTQ references and sexual encounter. If not for those few things, this book would have been downright amazing.

Reviewer's Name: Ella S.
Dear Mrs. Bird
Pearce, AJ
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book took me on an emotional roller-coaster! The beginning bits were so funny, I figured it was going to be more of a slapstick comedy (which I was okay with), and then the reality that this was set in London during the Blitz set in, and I found myself gasping. Plucky Emmaline is such a lovable character, I would love if the author would consider revisiting her life in the future! Strongly recommend for those who enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. While it is not written in letters, Dear Mrs. Bird packs a similar emotional punch.

Reviewer's Name: Krista M.
Awards:
Genres:
The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Ware, Ruth
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

2 1/2 stars. It was a fun Gothic-type novel, but nothing really memorable. If you just need something light to read with not too much substance (I call them "chewing gum" books), you may enjoy this title. This is my 3rd Ruth Ware novel to which I've given 2 1/2-3 stars so I think I'm done with her books.

Reviewer's Name: Krista M.
Awards:
Apollo 8
Kluger, Jeffrey
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In August 1968, NASA made the bold decision to win a major battle in the Cold War by launching the first manned flight to the moon. President Kennedy's deadline of putting a man on the moon by 1970 was fast approaching, but Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders were up to the challenge to make a huge advancement in order to meat the deadline. Apollo 8 tells the full story of the mission from Mission Control to the astronauts' homes, from the test labs to the launch pad. Apollo 8 also gives a summary of the Mercury, Gemini, and the other Apollo missions and talks about the science behind the mission in an easy to understand manner. From the coauthor of the bestselling book about Apollo 13, Apollo 8 is a thrilling yer informative tale and a great resource to have. I highly recommend this book for anyone in high school or older who is fascinated by the space program or is doing a project on anything related to NASA.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Apollo 8
Kluger, Jeffrey
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In August 1968, NASA made the bold decision to win a major battle in the Cold War by launching the first manned flight to the moon. President Kennedy's deadline of putting a man on the moon by 1970 was fast approaching, but Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders were up to the challenge to make a huge advancement in order to meat the deadline. Apollo 8 tells the full story of the mission from Mission Control to the astronauts' homes, from the test labs to the launch pad. Apollo 8 also gives a summary of the Mercury, Gemini, and the other Apollo missions and talks about the science behind the mission in an easy to understand manner. From the coauthor of the bestselling book about Apollo 13, Apollo 8 is a thrilling yer informative tale and a great resource to have. I highly recommend this book for anyone in high school or older who is fascinated by the space program or is doing a project on anything related to NASA.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
The Scorpio Races
Stiefvater, Maggie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

How would it feel to ride the most powerful and the fastest thing on the island of Thisbe? Well Sean Kendrick is doing just that, on his mount, the water horse Core. And what will it be like for Puck Connoly? The first woman to ride in the races, ever, on her island horse Dove? and how will this all play out when Mut Malvern on a breathlessly fast piebald mare, who wants to hurt Sean more than anything learns that Sean cares for Puck. What will happen in the corse of 2 weeks of training and a 5 minute race.

Reviewer's Name: Anneka S.
Genres:
The Scorpio Races
Stiefvater, Maggie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

How would it feel to ride the most powerful and the fastest thing on the island of Thisbe? Well Sean Kendrick is doing just that, on his mount, the water horse Core. And what will it be like for Puck Connoly? The first woman to ride in the races, ever, on her island horse Dove? and how will this all play out when Mut Malvern on a breathlessly fast piebald mare, who wants to hurt Sean more than anything learns that Sean cares for Puck. What will happen in the corse of 2 weeks of training and a 5 minute race.

Reviewer's Name: Anneka S.
Genres:
The Scorpio Races
Stiefvater, Maggie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

How would it feel to ride the most powerful and the fastest thing on the island of Thisbe? Well Sean Kendrick is doing just that, on his mount, the water horse Core. And what will it be like for Puck Connoly? The first woman to ride in the races, ever, on her island horse Dove? and how will this all play out when Mut Malvern on a breathlessly fast piebald mare, who wants to hurt Sean more than anything learns that Sean cares for Puck. What will happen in the corse of 2 weeks of training and a 5 minute race.

Reviewer's Name: Anneka S.
Genres:
The Scorpio Races
Stiefvater, Maggie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

How would it feel to ride the most powerful and the fastest thing on the island of Thisbe? Well Sean Kendrick is doing just that, on his mount, the water horse Core. And what will it be like for Puck Connoly? The first woman to ride in the races, ever, on her island horse Dove? and how will this all play out when Mut Malvern on a breathlessly fast piebald mare, who wants to hurt Sean more than anything learns that Sean cares for Puck. What will happen in the corse of 2 weeks of training and a 5 minute race.

Reviewer's Name: Anneka S.
Genres:
George
Gino, Alex
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Since it was so short, it was a really quick read, but by no means an easy one. I loved it because it was so eye opening, real, and heart breaking. I hated it for the same reasons. It was incredible! The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because it ended too quickly. "George" is about a 4th grader who knows she's a girl born into a boy's body. As she struggles to keep this concealed from her peers, she debates if she even should keep the truth a secret. I don't want to spoil it too much, but she receives support from some peers, and uncertainty and... almost disappointment?... from others. Please read it, it's amazing! I loved it so much.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
George
Gino, Alex
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Since it was so short, it was a really quick read, but by no means an easy one. I loved it because it was so eye opening, real, and heart breaking. I hated it for the same reasons. It was incredible! The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because it ended too quickly. "George" is about a 4th grader who knows she's a girl born into a boy's body. As she struggles to keep this concealed from her peers, she debates if she even should keep the truth a secret. I don't want to spoil it too much, but she receives support from some peers, and uncertainty and... almost disappointment?... from others. Please read it, it's amazing! I loved it so much.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
George
Gino, Alex
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Since it was so short, it was a really quick read, but by no means an easy one. I loved it because it was so eye opening, real, and heart breaking. I hated it for the same reasons. It was incredible! The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because it ended too quickly. "George" is about a 4th grader who knows she's a girl born into a boy's body. As she struggles to keep this concealed from her peers, she debates if she even should keep the truth a secret. I don't want to spoil it too much, but she receives support from some peers, and uncertainty and... almost disappointment?... from others. Please read it, it's amazing! I loved it so much.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
They Both Die at the End
Silver, Adam
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

At some points this book was really slow, but all in all it was really good! Essentially it's about two teenage boys with completely different life styles. They're drawn together when they both receive the ominous Death Call, a government-issued alert that warns the recipient that they will die that day. Shaken, Mateo vows to stay inside his house, contemplating that he'll never see his dad wake up from his comma, never see his best friend's daughter grow up. Rufus is shaken as well, but, in a panic after getting chased by the police, wonders around downtown. Until, a mysterious app called Last Friend brings them together. They are strangers and totally different. But it doesn't stop them from hanging out on their last day, crossing things off their bucket list and saying their good byes.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
They Both Die at the End
Silver, Adam
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

At some points this book was really slow, but all in all it was really good! Essentially it's about two teenage boys with completely different life styles. They're drawn together when they both receive the ominous Death Call, a government-issued alert that warns the recipient that they will die that day. Shaken, Mateo vows to stay inside his house, contemplating that he'll never see his dad wake up from his comma, never see his best friend's daughter grow up. Rufus is shaken as well, but, in a panic after getting chased by the police, wonders around downtown. Until, a mysterious app called Last Friend brings them together. They are strangers and totally different. But it doesn't stop them from hanging out on their last day, crossing things off their bucket list and saying their good byes.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
They Both Die at the End
Silver, Adam
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

At some points this book was really slow, but all in all it was really good! Essentially it's about two teenage boys with completely different life styles. They're drawn together when they both receive the ominous Death Call, a government-issued alert that warns the recipient that they will die that day. Shaken, Mateo vows to stay inside his house, contemplating that he'll never see his dad wake up from his comma, never see his best friend's daughter grow up. Rufus is shaken as well, but, in a panic after getting chased by the police, wonders around downtown. Until, a mysterious app called Last Friend brings them together. They are strangers and totally different. But it doesn't stop them from hanging out on their last day, crossing things off their bucket list and saying their good byes.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was given me to as a present and I truly had no intention of ever reading it, but when I did, I was insanely shocked at how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn't read a book like it before and I really enjoyed the drama that was in the story. I knew the plot was going to be interesting but I was really worried about how they would make a plot that didn't seem to shocking for a kid's book. The bullying part was done really well and I believe that instead of telling kids not to be mean, this book should be included in anti-bullying campaigns instead. This book can actually show children, especially younger ones, the effects that bullying anyone will have on the person. I really enjoyed the switching point of view from Auggie and Via because it was super interesting to see how Via reacted to everything about her brother as well, and the problems she had because of who her brother was. Since I had planned on regifting this book, I'm super glad I read it and while it may not be in my top ten favorites of all time, it does have a special place in my heart now.

Reviewer's Name: Brenna C.
Genres:
Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was given me to as a present and I truly had no intention of ever reading it, but when I did, I was insanely shocked at how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn't read a book like it before and I really enjoyed the drama that was in the story. I knew the plot was going to be interesting but I was really worried about how they would make a plot that didn't seem to shocking for a kid's book. The bullying part was done really well and I believe that instead of telling kids not to be mean, this book should be included in anti-bullying campaigns instead. This book can actually show children, especially younger ones, the effects that bullying anyone will have on the person. I really enjoyed the switching point of view from Auggie and Via because it was super interesting to see how Via reacted to everything about her brother as well, and the problems she had because of who her brother was. Since I had planned on regifting this book, I'm super glad I read it and while it may not be in my top ten favorites of all time, it does have a special place in my heart now.

Reviewer's Name: Brenna C.
Genres:
Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was given me to as a present and I truly had no intention of ever reading it, but when I did, I was insanely shocked at how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn't read a book like it before and I really enjoyed the drama that was in the story. I knew the plot was going to be interesting but I was really worried about how they would make a plot that didn't seem to shocking for a kid's book. The bullying part was done really well and I believe that instead of telling kids not to be mean, this book should be included in anti-bullying campaigns instead. This book can actually show children, especially younger ones, the effects that bullying anyone will have on the person. I really enjoyed the switching point of view from Auggie and Via because it was super interesting to see how Via reacted to everything about her brother as well, and the problems she had because of who her brother was. Since I had planned on regifting this book, I'm super glad I read it and while it may not be in my top ten favorites of all time, it does have a special place in my heart now.

Reviewer's Name: Brenna C.
Genres:

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