All Book Reviews

The Ivies
Donne, Alexa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Ivy League Universities are the most prestigious schools in America and even the world, and a group of five girls will stop at nothing to get into them. They call themselves the Ivies. The leader of the group, Avery, assigned each one of them a school: she is Harvard, .Emma is Brown, Sierra is Yale, Margot is Preston, and Olivia is Penn. After getting into Harvard, one of the girls is found dead. Olivia devotes herself to uncover secrets and scandals that could have caused her friends death, while avoiding becoming the killers next victim.
This book is a great book that is almost impossible to set down. It struck my interest because the thrill of murder mixed in with the stress of collage admissions sounds like the perfect story (and it is). This is a great story for anyone who loves a book with twists and turns that you never expect. I love that this story is not a one way, super easy murder case. It has lots of unexpected twists and turns that make it irresistible. This book also has a fair share of romance and gore, so readers who don't want anything PG13, this might not be the book for you.

Reviewer's Name: Joella
Divergent
Roth, Veronica
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

War and Hatred flood the world, leaving the USA broken, but through the ashes hope arises when a group of scientist forge a city experiment that will one day restore humanity. They re-build Chicago: however, they change the way the new civilization will see the world. The citizens of Chicago are divided into five different groups: Erudite (The intelligent), Amity (the peaceful), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), and Candor (the honest). At the age of 16, teens take an aptitude test to determine which faction they belong in. Two decades after this city is born, the story begins with the life of Tris Prior. When taking the aptitude test, Tris discovers that she is divergent. A divergent individual is someone who is aware during simulations because of their genes. The story follows her life as she discovers love, sacrifice, and heartbreak.
This is a great story for anyone who loves romance and is fine with some gore. I chose to read this book because it was one of my mom's favorites and she thought that I would enjoy it.
Divergent teaches the reader that in order to see clearly one must not only focus on one singular flaw in a community, they must look at the body as a whole not just looking at one arm or one leg. Event though this is a great story, most problems are solved with violence, and this may affect some readers in a negative manner.

Reviewer's Name: Joella
Divergent
Roth, Veronica
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Divergent takes place in a dystopian world where the characters are restricted to a small "city" and are divided into factions. This story follows a girl who does not particularly fit in any faction and has to make a decision what group she wants to be a part of. When she makes this decision she learns that people like her are not accepted and she must work hard to hide her identity.
This story is very engaging and always had suspense to keep my on the edge of my seat. The more casual writing style that Veronica Roth uses makes me more engrossed in the story and engaged with the characters. It's also very interesting how the plot line excels and how the author can describe each faction and character with such detail.
This is the book that made me interested in dystopian fiction. It is filled with suspense, comedy, and phenomenal character development that had me crying.

Reviewer's Name: Julianna
The Star that Always Stays
Johnson, Anna Rose
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When I first heard about The Star that Always Stays, I was intrigued by the beautiful cover and reviews that compared it to Anne of Green Gables. I was so intrigued that I did something I don't usually do and I bought the book before it had even been released. It arrived yesterday afternoon and I picked it up last night, intending to read a couple of chapters before bed.

I ended up finishing the book in the middle of the night!

This story was absolutely unputdownable, but its suspense had a sweetness reminiscent of wondering if Anne will find a home at Green Gables or if Aunt Polly will ever really find the joy that Pollyanna has. Norvia's story about dealing with a new school and new people is relatable for middle-schoolers but also has depth on issues like identity, divorce, and heritage that adults will appreciate.

All in all, I am so glad I purchased this book, and I will definitely be reading it over and over!

Reviewer's Name: Ellie
Genres:
Waste of Space
Gibbs, Stuart
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Waste of space is the third book in the moon base alpha trilogy. It follows the adventure of Dash, who is tasked with finding out who poisoned Lars Sjoberg. Unfortunately, the man is a terrible person, so literally anyone can be a suspect. Even his own family. To make matters worse, there is an oxygen crisis, which is not good considering they all live on the moon.
The story is a fun conclusion to the series. It's a great mystery, and has some incredibly tense moments. It's also funny! Highly recommend.

Reviewer's Name: Abigail
All the Light We Cannot See book jacket
Doerr, Anthony
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a historical fiction novel that is set in World War II. This book focuses on two characters Marie-Laure Leblanc and Werner Pfennig. Marie-Laure is a blind girl in France that relies on her father to help her live her life. Werner is a genius German who gets drafted by the Nazi’s to build and find the enemy with radios. These two conflicting worlds will soon crash into each other in the most heart wrenching way possible. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history or suspense.
Jaala 12

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
A Thousand Pieces of You book jacket
Gray, Claudia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray is a science fiction and adventure novel that anybody would love. This easy read quickly starts off with our main character, Marguerite, jumping into an alternate reality chasing her friend who killed her father. She catches him, but before he slips out of her grasp, she is conflicted with the question if he really did it or not. This book mixes physics for any math lovers, adventure for any aspiring traveler, and just a little bit of romance that makes it difficult to grasp onto what is real or fake. I would recommend this book to anybody who is in a reading slump and needs a good pick me up.
Jaala 12

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
Small Admissions book jacket
Poeppel, Amy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Small Admissions follows Kate Pearson, right after getting brutally dumped at an airport by her handsome, French, almost-fiancé. After the prodding of friends and family, Kate takes up a job with private school admissions, and is quickly thrown in to a mess of angry parents, bratty kids, scholarship grants, and interview skills. Throughout her journey, Kate and her friends will need to learn to let go, keep going, and grow up.
I love Amy Poeppel's books because each of her characters is so wonderfully flawed that it's a love letter to changing even as an adult. Every character in this book has a lot of issues, ranging between codependency, independency, over-confidence, under-confidence, and all possible maladies in between. This was very annoying in the beginning, but it lended to the catharsis of character development at the end. I never knew I could get so invested in a middle-aged woman making one good decision, but 300 pages of horrible decisions will do that for you! The characters themselves are amazingly vibrant and likable despite their horrible choices. There were a lot of names to remember at first, but each soon became memorable in their own way. They also interacted wonderfully throughout the book. Even though some characters got more time to shine than others, watching them bounce off each other was so fun. In particular, the female relationships in this novel get a lot of time and development, which I appreciate. The writing itself was great, not a ton of prose but very smooth and concise. The themes were phenomenal, and carried through the entire piece. There's a throughline of learning to let go of things you thought you'd always have, and while this at first seems obviously related to Kate's break-up, it applies to practically every character in the novel. People have to let go of jobs, schools, belief, and people, and it really is a love letter to letting yourself change for the better.
All in all, despite some issues with the large number of initially annoying characters, this book is phenomenal! I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants great character growth, a solid story, and a lesson on letting go!
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Eve
The Perks of Being a Wallflower book jacket
Chbosky, Stephan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I chose this book because I had watched the movie and was curious as to how the book was in comparison. I found that both were great overall and I don't dislike one more than the other, but the book felt more mature than the movie. Overall I really did enjoy this book, the detail in the book was a great touch, as well as was relatable. Personally, I felt a connection to some of the characters having to leave for college and trying to get the best possible score on the SAT. There is only one thing I did not enjoy about this book though, which is that there is a lot of smoking. The smoking feels a bit excessive, especially when the book follows a freshman in high school, so the amount of smoking I feel like does not portray a true aspect of what that would look like in real life. I would recommend this book to an upper teenage audience since there are mature topics such as brief sexual scenes and smoking. I gave this book 4 stars since I felt like it was very well written and an enjoyable book to read; the deduction of one star was due to the portrayal of smoking. This is honestly a great read that I personally love, I would definitely recommend it!

Reviewer's Name: Ashley
Counting Thyme
Conklin, Melanie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is the kind of book that touches your heart and leaves an imprint. Counting Thyme is an amazing book for all grades! It tells a story with everyday problems, implied ones, and the ones that stare you in the face with seemingly no solution. Thyme, an everyday middle schooler who just moved to NYC, doesn't really know how to fit in. She isn't happy with the move, but her brother is sick. Really sick, and she would do anything, even move into a small apartment across the country. As she tries to find her place in this big city, with all kinds of people, her journey is one of understanding. Thyme meets a grumpy old man, tries to reconcile with her sister, and so much more, all while struggling to get enough 'Thyme (Time)' to fly back home to California for a week for her birthday.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!
This read will be worth your Thyme, and I hope you enjoy it!

Reviewer's Name: Sharvari
The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Hunger Games follows the gripping story of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old that is the main provider for her younger sister and her mother after her father's passing. However, Katniss lives in Panem, built on the ruins of North America. In Panem, every year there is a deadly brawl in which 24 teens, 1 male and 1 female, from each of the 12 districts in Panem, face off in a fight to the death. Only 1 victor emerges alive. When Katniss's younger sister, Prim, is chosen to compete for the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers herself to take Prim's place. What will happen in the arena? Will Katniss make it out alive?

Collins' creation will have you gripping the edges of your seat in suspense, shrieking with fear, and experience huge floods of relief! The Hunger Games truly grips the reader with all the emotions Katniss experiences and will leave you impatient to read the next books in the series.

Reviewer's Name: August L.
Run, Hide, Fight Back
Henry, April
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I found the book, "Run, Hide, Fight Back" to be a very interesting and suspenseful book. I really enjoyed reading it and I would like to read more books like this. I very much enjoyed the detail described in this book and there were plot twists that I never would have expected.

Reviewer's Name: Quin
Awards:
Project Hail Mary
Weir, Andy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The strength of Andy Weir's hard sci-fi storytelling was evident in The Martian . He sets up a problem, shows us a solution, then does everything in his author-ly power to prevent the main character from achieving that solution. His scientific explanations might get a little dry, but they are necessary to understand the situation without diving too deep into details. While his sophomore effort with Artemis showed me he struggles with writing women, he came back to his roots and knocked it out of the park with Project Hail Mary.

There are many similarities between The Martian and Project Hail Mary, which is probably why I like both books equally. Sure, the stakes are higher in Project Hail Mary—with the survival of humanity on the line instead of just one astronaut—but the explanation of the science follows the same format he used in The Martian. Specifically, a problem derails all the progress made so far, and it requires more science (often jury-rigged) to fix. The twist that gives this book a slight edge over The Martian is how science is a universal concept.

I came into this book blind, which helped me fully appreciate the "buddy" dynamic between the two main characters. The flashbacks felt a little like an exposition cop-out due to Ryland Grace's amnesia, but they were necessary to ground the motivation of his character. Without Ryland's "friend" that he found on the journey, it's difficult to know if the result of the last-ditch effort to save Earth would have had the same outcome. There are strong comparisons to Ted Chiang's short story, Story of Your Life (and its film adaptation of Arrival (2016)) here, which just shows how well-thought-out this book was.

Another perfect hard sci-fi adventure by Andy Weir, I give Project Hail Mary 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Wolves of the Calla
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

There comes a point when you've consumed enough stories that you notice similarities. Sure, there are common tropes applied to plots that make them seem similar, but what I'm talking about is when you're reading a book and immediately, you're like, "This is exactly like [FILL IN THE BLANK]." For me, the fifth book in the Dark Tower series, Wolves of the Calla, laid out its premise, and I instantly thought, "This is exactly like Seven Samurai (1954)." Fortunately, there was more to this book than this classic tale of villagers defending themselves with the help of skilled warriors.

I will give credit to Stephen King for taking a well-known plot and adding enough sub-plots to distract from the fact that this book is the Dark Tower equivalent of The Magnificent Seven (1960). This is probably because these sub-plots are the driving force behind the main story arc of the series. As such, the Father Callahan/Black Thirteen thread was a welcome distraction from the training sequences that plague stories that follow the A Bug's Life (1998) formula. It was this sub-plot that makes me excited to read the rest of this series.

All jokes aside, Stephen King's use of the "hired warriors" trope was well written in Wolves of the Calla. It used the already-established western tropes present in the Dark Tower series to present a familiar conflict. It felt fresh and unique despite having seen many iterations over the years. I especially liked the "skilled plate throwers" as it helped enforce the ease at which Gunslingers can adapt to different styles of projectiles with deadly accuracy. It's rare to see a book this late in the series have such a solid plot, but I suspect it is due to this tried-and-true plot.

The Seven Samurai of the Dark Tower series, I give Wolves of the Calla 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Charlotte's Web
White, E.B.
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

This is the most depressing and downbeat novel I've ever read. I bought it recently for my young niece - and she was absolutely terrified of it. It constantly dwells on death and change - and it petrified my young niece. I wouldn't recommend this novel to any parents buying books for their kids - it will only upset and terrify them.

Reviewer's Name: Scot
Genres:
The Clash of Civilizations
Huntington, Samuel
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book Clash of Civilization and Remaking of World Order is written by Samuel Huntington and published in 1996. The author served at Harvard University for almost 5 decades as a Professor of Political Science. He also served in President Jimmy Carter’s administration as Director of Security Planning for the National Security Council. This book is one of the finest works and is divided into five sections.

Section 1

The central theme of the book is culture and cultural identities which are shaping the post cold war world. Culture includes our ancestry, religion, language, history, values, and institutions. Cultural identity is most meaningful to most people. Following the end of the Cold War, we will witness a conflict of civilizations rather than a clash of countries. States are in cooperation with a common culture and are in clash with states of diverse cultures.
Huntington goes on to say that civilization is the broadest cultural entity. Like culture, civilization also includes values, norms, and institutions. Civilizations have existed throughout human history. . Idea of civilization was conceived by 18th-century French thinkers as the opposite of the concept of barbarism. Civilization has no set boundaries and it is mortal but long-lived. They evolve and also endured. Empires rise and fall, governments come and go, and civilizations remain and survive political, social, economic, and even ideological upheavals. There are different civilizations like Sinic, Japanese, Hindu, Islamic, Orthodox, Western and African.
All societies share common and basic values and if we integrate all those certain basic values, it becomes universal civilization. One civilization shares thing with another civilization Viz innovation. The most significant aspect of civilization is language and religion . If a universal civilization is emerging, then there should be an emerging universal language. English is considered to be lingua Franca. Lingua France is a tool for communication rather than a source of identity and community. Talking about religion, the writer remarks Muslims win out. Christianity spread primarily by conversion, Islam by conversion and reproduction. The proportion of Muslims in the world increase dramatically.

Section 2
In section 2, Huntington believes that western civilization is the most powerful civilization, with the ability to influence other civilizations’ politics, economies, and security. West civilization operates an international banking system, controls all hard currencies, provides the majority of the world’s finished goods, dominates international capital markets, is capable of massive military intervention, controls all sea lines, and dominates international communication. Non-western people admire the economic prosperity, technological sophistication, military power, and political coherence of western societies.
In the second half, we have a dark side of western civilization. West’s share of world political, economic, and military power went down relative to other civilizations. West victory in the cold war produced not victory but exhaustion. West’s major inner problems are stagnating population, unemployment, slow economic growth, huge government deficit, a declining work ethic, and low saving rates. Non-Westerners are also better civilized and better educated.
Then Huntington moves on to economics. East Asia’s economic development has been one of the most significant in the globe during the twentieth century. First began in Japan in the 1950s then extended to four tigers( Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore) and then China. Five civilization including Russia exists in East Asia. Huntington predicts China’s economy will overtake the United States as the world’s greatest in the twenty-first century. Asians believe their economic success is due to their better culture than that of the West. Comparing Asian and Western values, Dr. Mahatir Muhammad said Asian values are universal values, and European values are European values.
Section 3
In today’s world, cultural identity will determine country alignment and antagonism. . Suppose during the Yugoslav war, Russia supported diplomatically to Serbia while Muslim countries supported Muslims Bosnia with arms and funds not because of any interest but because of cultural kinship and affinity. In the past during the cold war countries formed associations and partnerships because of their security interest, power balance, and their ideologies. People make friends with those who have the same ancestry, language, religion, and values and repel themselves from those with different ones. And because of these cultural differences, Europe hesitates to include Turkey in European club and Asians feel reluctant to include Australia in Asia. We all are different. Mahathir Mohammad says, Asians generally are modulated, devious, non-judgmental, and non-confrontational while Australians are direct, blunt, outspoken, and insensitive.
Every civilization has a core and central state that leads the civilization. It influences the world order and it guides that particular civilization. A core state acts as a big brother while member states act as young siblings. In Asia, China is a significant player. Chinese companies own businesses in the Philippines, Singapore Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In this way, they dominate the economy. Overseas Chinese help to make China Great. They live outside but they invest heavily in China. In Europe, Russia plays a dominant role. Muslim republics of the former USSR rely on Russia for finance and security. Armenia is backed financially and militarily by Russia in its fight against its Muslim neighbor. Russia also governs Ukraine from Moscow. In the Muslim world, Turkey, can’t lead because of its attachment to secularism. KSA can’t because of its small population which makes it dependent on the west for its security. Pakistan can’t lead because it has a poor status and suffers internal ethnic and regional conflicts. It also has a history of political instability and unrest.
Section 4
An early chapter of Section four is about the west and its relation with the rest of civilizations, weapons proliferation, and immigration. West believes non-western should adhere to their values of democracy, free market, limited government, and human rights. Non-western aspire to be independent of western policies. They like their own because the West obeys hypocrisy and double standards like non-proliferation are preached for Iran and Iraq but not for Israel. Westerns are the antagonist of Muslims and Sinic societies and this helps Muslim and Sinic societies to join their hands against the West. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Huntington talks about weapons proliferation. It is said that if you have a nuclear weapon, the US won’t fight you. Nuclear weapons pose a menace to the west. China and Russia have ballistic missiles capable of reaching Europe. North Korea, Pakistan, and India also have the capabilities to target the west. Terrorism and nuclear weapons have made non-western countries powerful . These are their assets against the West. The prerequisite goal of the west is not nonproliferation but counter-proliferation.
About migration, Views of the western change over time. Sometimes they prefer immigration when they have a labor shortage. But sometimes they won’t allow non-western to become western. Immigration is a threat to their language, values, and culture. The Westerners feel they are not assaulted by the army and weapons but by migrants who don’t speak their language and follow their culture. Western especially French can accept black Africans but not Muslim girls who wear headscarves.
In the later chapters of this section, the author discusses fault line wars. Fault line wars are the wars fought between states belonging to different civilizations. Rivals have different religions. Possession of territory or control over people are the possible causes of conflict. Massacres, rape, terrorism, and torture become common in these conflicts. For example In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Muslims have fought a war with orthodox Serbs and also engage in violence with catholic Croatians. During the Soviet Afghan war, Muslims Mujahideen from different countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and Sudan fought against the Communist Soviets. Muslims Azeris fought with Christian Armenians over control of Nagorno Karabakh. There was a war between Muslims and Christians in Sudan. There are riots between Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir. There is violence between Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem.

Section 5
Huntington concludes and keeps west civilization at the top of all civilizations because it fosters the westernization of non-western societies and modernization. Modernization includes urbanization, industrialization, literacy education, health, and socialization In terms of economy, technology, and scientific research, the West is at the apex. Western believes non-western should follow their values, institution, and culture because they are superior. Arthur Schlesinger mentions ideas of liberty, political democracy, rule of law, and cultural freedom, these all are European notions, not Asian. Further, In the future, we will have inter-civilizational battles and we can avoid them only if core states of major civilizations don’t intervene in conflicts. A civilization will surpass all civilizations if it is rich in religion, art, culture, tradition, language, values, literature and technology.

Reviewer's Name: Shahbaz M.
Genres:
Echo North
Meyer, Joanna Ruth
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Echo North is such an amazing book because the little girl wanted to save her farther because she loved him very much. For her to save her farther she had to make a deal with a white wolf that she had for many years. The wolf said if she makes and deal with them it would change her life forever. The wolf said that she had to live with them in their enchanted house under the mountain and than they would save her farther. She agreed to the deal and the wolf took her to world that she never knew was there. She sees that world seems very lonely and sad but she has to be strong because she want her farther to live as long as he can. I have only read a little bit of this book and it seems like it is very funn and has some exciting parts and loving because she did that for her farther.

Reviewer's Name: Mia C.
Awards:
Genres:
Web of Shadows
Sleeman, Susan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Two years ago FBI agent Nina Brandt sent a hacker with a paranoid disorder to prison, and he has spent these past two years to make a detailed plan of how to get is revenge. At the same time, her ex-fiancee's brother hacks into the TSA's No Fly List. When Quinn Stone, her ex-fiancee, realises his brothers only hope to stay out of jail is to ask her for her help. What Nina and Quinn don't see coming is that their past is going to come back to haunt them. Nina is pulled far deeper into the investigation that she ever thought she would be. Although crime isn't the only thing on Nina's mind. She realises quickly that she is falling for Quinn again. Everything depends on if Agent Brandt can manage to solve the crime and prevent terrorists from receiving the No Fly List information and also keeping herself from being killed by Wiley, the felon out to get her.
Web of Shadows is the second instalment of the Agents Under Fire Series.My reason for reading this book is that I have read other books of Sleeman's and this one sounded interesting. From its many intriguing plot twists to Nina's romantic indecision, I enjoyed almost everything about this books. The only thing I don't like, is at the beginning most of the point of view is from the felon. I think the type of people who would enjoy this book the most are teens and adults, and it is a fiction mystery.

Reviewer's Name: Clarabelle
They Both Die at the End
Silvera, Adam
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

They Both Die at the End is a book about two teenage boys, Rufus, and orphan with a sad past and Mateo who’s father is in a coma and spends most of his day in his room. At the beginning of the day both Rufus and Mateo get a call from Death Cast, an organization that lets people know that they will die in the next 24 hours. The two boys meet through an app called last friend that hooks patrons up with a friend to spend their last day with. As the book continues the two boys start to fall in love but only have 24 hours left to spend with each other. They Both Die at the end is an enthralling book that I couldn’t put down. I loved how the author also brought in other perspectives besides those of Rufus and Mateo and I also like how they visited places from their pasts throughout the day to help the readers understand the characters a little better. I have no complaints about how the book was written and I kept reading because while I was reading I experienced a full range of emotions form happiness to sadness and anger.

Reviewer's Name: Nadia G.
Awards:
Genres:
The Catcher in the Rye
Salinger, J.D.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I don't understand why this is a classic. I only vagally understand the book. the main character, Holden Caufield, doesn't learn anything. I can't see any reason to read.

Reviewer's Name: Susan Q.