Award Books by Genre: Other Award(s)

The Nightingale book jacket
Hannah, Kristin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Originally I was interested in this book because it was highly praised among those who read it. It portrays two sisters and their lives in World War II. One named Isabelle and one named Vianne, it shows the different courses of their lives but in the end their own impact made on those around them. If you are interested in learned about women’s contribution in war this book is for you! I would recommend this book to anyone looking to expand their perspective on war, but be aware this book does touch on some topics that may be triggering. Overall, the Nightingale was a wonderful read that gave me more insight to women’s lives at the time and their contributions.

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Lilly
The Song of Achilles book jacket
Miller, Madeline
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller is a stunning and deeply moving retelling of the Iliad that captivates from beginning to end, earning a solid 5 stars. Miller skillfully weaves a tale of love, friendship, and heroism, focusing on the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles. The narrative beautifully explores the complexities of their bond, providing a fresh perspective on the legendary characters. Miller's prose is both lyrical and evocative, effortlessly transporting readers to the ancient world. The emotional depth and nuance she brings to the characters make this retelling a triumph, resonating with readers on a profound level. "The Song of Achilles" is a masterpiece that seamlessly combines rich storytelling with timeless themes, earning its well-deserved 5-star rating.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
The Midnight Library book jacket
Haig, Matt
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

TW: A main theme of this book (and thus the review) is suicide. If this topic makes you uncomfortable, I would suggest finding a different book.

“The Midnight Library” is a story about Nora Seed, whose life has not gone how she’s expected. Worse yet, she feels as though it’s all her fault and her regrets weigh heavy on her. One night she decides to end her own life, but she wakes up in a library with her elementary school librarian. That’s when she gets the opportunity to live the lives she could have led if she’d made different decisions.

As the story goes along, we see many of Nora’s alternative lives. Some of them are just as disastrous as her regular life (her best friend dies, her husband cheats on her). Others are nearly perfect, but can’t be truly satisfying when she didn’t create them. I was glad that some of the alternate lives were good, otherwise it would have seemed like Nora’s original life was simply the lesser of two evils. All of them are interesting to read about. Another interesting aspect of the book is the library itself. The author knows when to reveal information and when to keep things vague.

There aren’t many characters to keep track of. Nora is the main character, and the reader gets a good sense of her interests and aspirations through her various lives. Her friends and family all get a decent amount of depth as well, though they’re not in focus most of the time.

I can’t pretend that I really resonated with the message of the book. I would have preferred if it focused a bit more on the good things that could happen in Nora’s future rather than the good things that happened in her alternate lives. However, that could be a problem exclusive to me.

Overall, I would recommend this book to almost anyone. It’s a fast read and a good story.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
The American Roommate Experiment book jacket
Armas, Elena
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

What is a better way to start a relationship with someone, your best friend’s cousin, than calling the cops on them? Answer: There is none, especially if it's a rom-com novel—the perfect first encounter. This is what happens to Rosie Graham when she unexpectedly comes across Lucas Martin, her best friend’s cousin, “breaking into her out of town friends apartment” and calls the cops. New flash, he was not breaking in; he had a key, but little did she know that this was the start of an excellent relationship and a well-written, feel-good book because everyone needs a decent, feel-good book in their lives, right? Well, at least for me, that book is not The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas. I mean, yes, technically, the novel is a feel-good book, but it is also so much more. It's about overcoming your past and moving forward. It’s about loving yourself and supporting others. It’s about allowing yourself to rely on others. The American Roommate Experiment is an emotional rollercoaster bundled up into 400 pages. That made me feel anywhere from devastated to ecstatic, to awe, to hate, and to love in a single chapter.

That being said, I didn’t enjoy The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas as much as its prequel, The Spanish Love Deception. I found the plot too slow, even for a slow-burn-type book, and overly stacked with tropes. While I enjoy a good friends-to-lovers trope, in this case, I found it extremely frustrating, and generally, I found that Lucas and Rosie lacked the necessary chemistry. I mean, water and oil have better chemistry. Both Lucas and Rosie would, in my opinion, make better friends than lovers, and the romance piece felt like an afterthought in the plot and their relationship. It is still a well-written novel with fascinating characters and a well-needed message. I adored the character development that progressed but found the romance part severely lacking. The best way I would describe The American Roommate Experiment is a modern feel-good comedy, and if that is what you’re looking for? Great. It is a perfect read, but don’t go looking for a romance novel.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Life of Pi book jacket
Martel, Yann
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Life of Pi" by Yann Martel recounts the major events of Pi's life before going into detail about him being stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger. It has frequent anecdotes about zookeeping and religion, especially near the beginning. The main character, Pi Patel, is an extremly likable main character. Though he is not particularly colorful or eccentric, his devotion to God and resilience make the audience instantly emphasize with him. Richard Parker, the tiger, is also made interesting. Though he doesn't do anything out of the realm of possibility, it's always left unclear how he's going to respond to the current situation. The rest of the characters are not particularly deep, but they all serve their purpose.

The plot is fairly simple, focusing more on describing Pi's struggle in detail than twists and turns. Sitting on a boat for seven months is hard to make interesting, but this book rises to the occassion. Every change in circumstance is explored, and Pi has to respond in creative ways. In between the speeches about how to train a tiger and why a hyena is dangerous, there are themes about faith that are masterfully done. While I can't say I agree with everything that's said about religion, I do appriciate how it is explored.

I would reccomend this book to animal lovers, people who enjoy survival stories, and anyone looking for a unique story that will keep them hooked.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
Love, Theoretically book jacket
Hazelwood, Ali
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Okay, so the plot may be a little silly. A desperate adjunct physics professor, Elsie Hannaway, makes up for her pathetic paycheck by becoming people’s fake girlfriend. Does she enjoy her jobs? No. During the day, she deals with pathetic and entitled college students who couldn’t care less about physics. At night, she people-pleases to make enough to live. All while living in a probably rat-infested apartment. Whoever said academia was easy? And when she finally might get an actual well-paying job at MIT, she runs into Jack Smith, the older brother of her favorite client. Who may or may not think she works at a library?

That being said, the classic enemies-to-lovers trope and the quirky, witty characters complement the plot perfectly. The chemistry between Jack and Elsie is palpable. Frankly, Love, Theoretically, brings out the uncontrollable laughter and wholesome feelings everyone needs. However, this is definitely not my favorite Hazelwood book, and out of all the protagonists of her other books, Elsie just didn’t make the same spark. Throughout the whole book, Elsie needs constant approval from those around her, and despite being a wonderful, smart person, she lacks self-esteem. And I mean, I get it; some people have trouble with self-esteem, but Elsie’s people-pleasing tendencies are taken to too much of an extreme. And Jack, the most wholesome, caring person, sends mixed signals the whole book. The “you don’t like me” phase was too drawn out and, at times, annoying. Still, I enjoyed the light, pleasant read like always.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Eight Hundred Grapes book jacket
Dave, Laura
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Eight Hundred Grapes" by Laura Dave is an exceptional novel that effortlessly earns a well-deserved 5-star rating. Set against the picturesque backdrop of a California vineyard, the story intricately weaves together themes of love, family, and self-discovery. Laura Dave's storytelling prowess shines through, creating a narrative that is both emotionally resonant and utterly captivating.
The vineyard setting adds an extra layer of charm and uniqueness to the narrative, creating a vivid backdrop that complements the story's themes. The novel explores the complexities of family dynamics, the choices we make, and the impact these decisions have on our lives.
What sets "Eight Hundred Grapes" apart is its ability to balance romance, drama, and introspection seamlessly. Laura Dave's writing style is engaging, pulling the reader into the lives of the characters and making the book difficult to put down. Overall I found "Eight Hundred Grapes" to be a literary gem, offering a rich and satisfying reading experience that warrants the highest praise.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
Turtles All the Way Down book jacket
Green, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"Turtles All the Way Down" is a young adult novel written by John Green. The story follows the life of Aza Holmes, a 16-year-old girl dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Aza, along with her best friend Daisy, becomes involved in the mystery surrounding the disappearance of a billionaire named Russell Pickett. As they investigate, Aza also navigates the challenges of her mental health and relationships.
In my opinion, "Turtles All the Way Down" is a compelling and emotionally resonant novel, earning my rating of 3/5. John Green brings depth and authenticity to the portrayal of Aza's struggles with OCD, providing readers with a unique and empathetic perspective. The exploration of friendship, love, and the complexities of mental health adds layers to the narrative. The book's strength lies in its realistic characters, poignant storytelling, and the author's ability to address important themes with sensitivity. While some may find the pacing or plot elements challenging or dull, the overall impact and the way it tackles mental health make it a worthwhile and thought-provoking read.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
An Abundance of Katherines book jacket
Green, John
2 stars = Meh
Review:

"An Abundance of Katherines" by John Green revolves around the quirky and intellectually gifted protagonist, Colin Singleton, who finds himself in a cycle of heartbreak. Having been dumped by 19 girls, all named Katherine, Colin sets out on a road trip with his best friend, Hassan, in an attempt to overcome the repetitive pattern in his love life. Along the journey, the novel explores themes of self-discovery, friendship, and the complexities of relationships. Green weaves in mathematical concepts and footnotes, adding an intellectual layer to the narrative as Colin attempts to create a formula predicting the duration of romantic relationships.
In my opinion, the novel falls short in execution. The heavy reliance on mathematical discussions, while unique, can be overwhelming or dull for readers not inclined towards that subject. The repetitiveness of the plot, with the central theme of Colin's romantic struggles, becomes a hindrance, making the story feel stagnant at times. Despite some moments of humor and insight, the overall experience may leave readers desiring more depth and variety in the narrative.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
The Naturals book jacket
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is about a teenage girl who gets enlisted in an FBI program, The Natural Program where she and other “Naturals” work to solve cold cases. I really liked the premise of this book. The teenagers are basically prodigies on reading people or reading crime scenes in a way adult agents can’t do . The protagonist, Cassie Hobbes, for example is really good at reading people and how they might react to situations. Others members are good at telling lies, knowing statistics or math, and reading emotions. I really enjoyed the found family trope with Cassie and the other Naturals and am hoping to see more of that as the series moves forwards. This first book while really good, kind of just felt like a beginning couple episodes to a tv show. We’re still learning about the characters, the program, and the main plot of the story as a whole. I will say it did encourage me to continue with the series and figure out how the Naturals react with other challenges and problems that come with being apart of the FBI.

Reviewer's Name: Cara
The Love Hypothesis book jacket
Hazelwood, Ali
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Let’s be real for a second: if you want a snarky and admirably catchy writing style and you’re not adamantly opposed to romance novels, you arguably have to read at least one of Ali Hazelwood’s books. For this reason, I’d highly recommend The Love Hypothesis. This charming, witty, romantic comedy follows Olive Smith as she navigates the treacherous path of a Stanford biology graduate program and complex relationships within her department. It is a classic enemies-to-lovers and grumpy meets sunshine trope, as Olive and Adam pretend to be a couple to appease her roommate and his family. The relationship between Olive and Adam is unbelievably wholesome and will fill your heart with warmth and happiness. Additionally, all of the characters in the story are simple yet relatable, so you won’t find yourself drowning in unnecessary information. While the plot is easy to predict, the snarky and witty writing style of Hazelwood transforms this romantic comedy into a master piece. That being said, the plot is still immaculate, with a perfect ending that will rip your heart in two. Chefs kiss.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
The Silent Patient book jacket
Michaelides, Alex
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Enthralling, captivating, and unexpecting are all words that can be used to describe The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, an irresistible and stunning psychological thriller. The suspense from the first chapter is palpable, and the skillfully laid out plot leaves the reader second-guessing until the very end. It is truly, in the full sense of the word, a thriller, full of curveballs and red herrings, multidimensional realistic characters, thick, palpable emotions… The list goes on. Michaelides’ wonderful writing style and the perfect plot pace were just the cherry on top.

The plot is utterly outstanding. From the first words, the protagonist, Alicia Berenson, shocks the reader with an unspeakable act of violence: she killed her husband. Why? That is the sole question I found myself asking the whole book. An even bigger question: why did she fall silent after the murder? And will she ever speak again? An added layer of complexity is her new psychotherapist, Theo Faber, who is anything but perfect. Theo’s obsession with Alicia raises another question: why is he obsessed? What are his motivations? As the plot unfolds, the mystery behind Alicia’s silence uncovers vast psychological trauma and the lies of her close friends and family. As the plot thickens, Michaelides creates a haunting setting as he delves into the intricacies of the human mind. It becomes evident that this novel is well-thought-out and plentifully researched to draw the reader into a realistic setting. Honestly, I have no criticism of The Silent Patient and could not recommend it enough for anyone looking for a suspenseful plot-twisty psychological thriller.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Love on the Brain book jacket
Hazelwood, Ali
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Love on the Brain is stacked full of misunderstandings. When Bee Königswasser gets her dream job at NASA, she is ecstatic, except when she realizes her archnemesis, Levi, is her co-worker. So, who does she blame when her equipment stops working? Or when the staff ignores her? Levi. Through all of Bee’s misadventures, the reader is pulled along seamlessly and introduced into the narrative with an enviable writing style.

So here’s an equation: Romance plus STEM equals?

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Far From the Tree book jacket
Benway, Robin
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"Far From the Tree" by Robin Benway is a exploration of family, identity, and the bonds that tie people together. The book follows the interconnected lives of three siblings—Grace, Maya, and Joaquin—who are all separated and discover each other's existence and embark on a journey to understand the meaning of family. Benway skillfully intertwines the perspectives of these three characters, creating a narrative that unfolds with genuine emotion and authenticity. The story delves into themes of adoption, acceptance, and the profound impact of family connections on one's sense of self.
Awarding "Far From the Tree" a rating of 3/5 reflects my appreciation for the novel's engaging storyline and the author's adept portrayal of complex family dynamics. The characters are well-developed, and their individual struggles and growth are compelling. However, at times, the narrative can feel slightly formulaic, with certain plot points following predictable trajectories. Additionally, while the exploration of adoption is insightful, some aspects of the story may feel a bit too neatly resolved. Despite these minor critiques, Benway's ability to craft a touching narrative around the theme of found family makes "Far From the Tree" a solid and emotional read, deserving a 3 star rating.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
The Fault in Our Stars book jacket
Green, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" is a heartwarming and pleasant YA novel that explores a variety of themes like love, illness, and essence. This particular story follows the narrative of Hazel and Augustus, two teenagers who battle cancer and embark on a journey of love and self-discovery together.
I rate "The Fault in Our Stars" 3 out of 5 stars for its easy readability, enjoyable narrative, and the extremely important message it conveys about cancer awareness through Hazel's and Augustus' characters. It is an incredibly nice, short book to read, particularly for audiences who are young adults. However, compared to some of the other books I've read, it doesn't delve as deeply and lacks the complex storytelling that I often seek while reading. While it certainly has its lovely positives that I enjoyed, the book, in my opinion, falls a little short in terms of depth and construction, which is why I choose to give it a 3-star rating.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
The Book Thief book jacket
Zusak, Markus
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was awesome! I had to read it for school, but I ended up really loving it and the way Markus Zusak wrote it. This book takes place in Nazi Germany and follows a young girl named Liesel who loves words and stories but can’t read. The book is interesting because the narrator isn’t Liesel and it isn’t in third person, instead it’s narrated by Death himself. Through Death, we learn about Liesel’s development and the environment she is living through. We watch as she gets older and continues her love for stories and writing. While this story can be heartfelt, the focus still takes place in Nazi Germany where all kinds of tragedies were taking place and made me tear up more than once. This book was amazing but it’s something you have to read slowly because of all the figurative language and metaphors being described at once. You have to think about what Death is telling you and then compare it to Liesel’s story. I loved this book but I was ready to cry by then end of it because of all the events taking place.

Reviewer's Name: Cara
Illuminae book jacket
Kaufman, Amie
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This book was interesting. It takes place in 2575 so way in the future and includes a planet invasion and a plague. It was also written in the transcripts of files and emails, so even though it was a long book it was a quick read. It was slow at the beginning and a little hard to get into because of the different way of writing it, but it eventually got good. I was interested for a while, but then it just got confusing again. I also did not enjoy the main character or the way she acted, her character development just stopped making sense. I’m not sure if I would recommend this book, I think if you want a legit sci-fi novel you should read this, but be prepared to focus try to transcript emails and codes.

Reviewer's Name: Cara
Atonement book jacket
McEwan, Ian
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Atonement" is the story of thirteen year old Briony and her misunderstanding of the world. It begins in the Tallis household in 1935. Obsessed with fantasy and books, she sees sinister motivations in the blossoming romance between her sister and the son of the family's house cleaner. When something terrible happens, Briony makes a mistake that will change the lives of everyone around her.

The characters in this story are all well developed, but Briony is the stand out in this regard. Her motivations straddle the line between clearly defined and mysterious. She has a clearly defined character, dramatic, self centered, and eager to please. Cecilia and Robbie are less defined, but still sympatheic and interesting. I found Robbie slightly unpleasant in the second half of the book, but it was understandable considering the circumstances.

The plot cannot be properly discussed without getting into spoilers. However, it unfolds in a clear manner. All the plot points are set up before they happen, and given proper foreshadowing. At the end, there is a plot twist. Since I highly recommend this book, I will not be spoiling the twist. However, I will say that it makes everything else that happened in the book unclear (in the best possible way).

This book contains a depiction of rape, extreme violence, and rather gruesome hospital scenes. If any of these subjects upset you, I would not recommend this book. If you are able to handle these topics, and you appricate books that focus on pyschology and character exploration, I would definitely recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
To All the Boys I've Loved Before book jacket
Han, Jenny
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

To all the Boys I’ve loved Before is a coming of age novel. Lara Jean Covey writes love letters whenever she has a crush so intense she doesn’t know what else to do. She has five in all, and keeps them all in a blue hatbox for her eyes only. Until by accident someone sends them out and her life spirals out of control

This was an interesting take on love letters as she only wrote them to get over a crush and not to confess her feelings. I enjoyed Lara Jean’s personality throughout the book and liked the supporting characters as they developed. This book is a good focus on grief and letting go as her older sister is off at college and now she’s the woman of the house since her mom died years prior. I feel like I could connect to Lara Jean a lot as she is scared to try new things and makes a realistic approach on growing up.

Reviewer's Name: Cara
We Were Liars book jacket
Lockhart, E.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

We were liars is a young adult drama/thriller. It’s about the seemingly perfect Sinclair family and their summer private island. Cadence Sinclair is the heir to the Sinclair fortune and going to the island during the summers is what she looks forward to during the year. However, after an accident and two summers missed on the island, Cadence returns with little memory and a suspicious feeling.

This was an overall good book to read. It got a little slow at times, but it was not predictable and kept me on the edge of my seat. I will say I was expecting a predictable ending but the plot twist completely blew me away! It’s also not very long and a quick read but with a lot of emotions. E. Lockhart did a good job at making me feel things. I laughed, I cried, and had more than one jaw dropper. I would rate it a 3 just because it got a little boring and confusing, but I would recommend!

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Cara