All Book Reviews

Salt to the Sea
Sepetys, Ruta
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Salt to the Sea is about 4 people who are running from their past in the midst of WWII. Joana is a nurse fleeing from the dangers of Lithuania, with the hope that a ship will take her out of Europe. Florian is on the run from a mistake he made back in Germany also looking for the chance to escape without anyone finding him and taking him back to Germany. Emilia has finally decided to flee from the family that was taking care of her after the woman and her daughters betray her trust. Alfred is escaping reality by joining the German fleet to escape the mistake he made that cost him his girlfriend and his sanity. As the book continues all the character's paths join and they meet on the Wilhem Gustoff- a bigger tragedy than the sinking of the Titanic. The ship that promises safety, ends in tragedy. This is my favorite author, and out of all her books, this one is my absolute favorite. The character's stories blend together to make all the little plots into one overarching plot which I think is really cool. The chapters switch off narrators so you get to see the story in different perspectives. I like how the author shows a different side of the war than other WWII books where Germany is portrayed as the enemy and not as a country also in war. In this book, many of the people also fear Russia more than Germany because Russia was the one attacking and not helping and Germany was the one evacuating people. This makes the book different and I think more interesting. This is a really good book and it is worth a try.

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Mockingjay
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Mockingjay is about a girl named Katniss Everdeen who becomes a warrior in the war against the capitol. She must rebel against the capitol to stop the cruelty that the capitol finds entertaining and to ensure a better future of Panem. Katniss must go through training, injuries, and the lost of loved ones, all while taking down the capitol one attack at a time. I really loved this book. It exceeded my expectations one hundred percent. There are two other books in this series so make sure you read those before this one.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Night
Wiesel, Elie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Night by Elie Wiesel is a powerfully graphic novel that tells the story of a Hungarian Jew's experiences in various concentration camps within Nazi Germany during World War II. I really enjoyed this book. It was very well written and hard to put down. This book not only tells of Wiesel's experiences in concentration camps, but provides insight into psychological and philosophical ideas that make it even more interesting. Wiesel was just a teen when he and his family were sent away. He and his father were separated from his mother and sister and underwent an immense amount of trauma that was life altering for both of them. I'd recommend this book to those interested in World War II. The book is a quick and easy read with deep, profound content.

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth
Wilder Girls
Power, Rory
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Raxter School for Girls is located on a secluded island off mainland America. They have been under quarantine for over a year because of the "tox" that has infected the students and teachers there. The tox gives the girls strange mutations like a hand covered in scales, two hearts or two spines, but it can also kill them. There are few students or teachers left on the island, and with little food and dwindling supplies it's a struggle to survive. Hetty is just trying to keep herself and her friends alive long enough for someone to find a cure but when one of her friends, Byatt, go missing Hetty takes it upon herself to find her and learns that things on the island aren't all that they seem to be.
This book is mainly told in two perspectives, Hetty and Byatt. I like this because it gives more insight to other parts of the story. I enjoyed being in Hetty's head. It was interesting to see her look back at her time before Raxter and to see the reasoning behind the decisions she makes. I also liked reading about this new world the girls are living in.
The ending was left very open ended which was kinda annoying. I also think the characters could have more personality outside of how they have been affected by their circumstances. They often lacked depth

Reviewer's Name: Savannah
The Call of the Wild
London, Jack
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I was required to read The Call of the Wild for my Literature class. The story is about a lovable St. Bernard dog named Buck. At the start of the story, Buck lives in the cushy and comfy house of Judge Miller, but eventually winds up in the wild North of the Yukon. Serving as a sled dog, Buck passes through many owners, good and bad, and learns to answer the Call of the Wild. Overall, it was a pretty good book, but I would only give it Three Star review for these reasons:
1: As it is a classic, the book was written with an older style of English, which can be a little hard to understand. Older English can also take away some of the gravity in pressing situations.
2: There wasn’t quite as much action as I would have liked.
3: I enjoyed the book, but some of the action scenes may have been ruined by the Older English, although the Older English gives the reader a taste of how people communicated in the past. However, the characters, plot, and setting were developed well, so overall, Call of the Wild is a classic, and a quality work of literature, which still can be enjoyed today.

Reviewer's Name: Zach
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder
Jackson, Holly
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Five years ago in Pippa's small town Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend Sal Singh. Everyone believes the case is closed, but Pippa isn't sure. When she decides to look more into the case for her senior capstone (thesis) project, she discovers secrets about the case someone in her town wanted to keep hidden.
The plot of this book was very interesting and fast-paced. It wasn't predictable and the twists at the end were surprising. I really liked Pippa (or Pip) as a character. I appreciated her dedication to her friends and how they would be affected by her investigation. Also because she didn't take things at face value and looked into them more deeply before making a conclusion.
Some things I didn't like about this books is that Pip was a bit unethical in her investigation. She broke into houses, pretended to be a reporter and other people involved with the murder to get the information she needed. Also I had to suspend by disbelief at some parts because it was kinda hard to believe that a seventeen year old with little to no prior investigative experience was so much better then detectives at their job.

Reviewer's Name: Savannah
Cover of the book Savvy
Law, Ingrid
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book Savvy is about a family and whenever a member of that family turns 13, they gain a special talent called their "savvy". Mibs is about to turn 13,but her father is hurt in an accident before this happens. Mibs now needs her power more than every because there is a chance that her power could save her father! At her birthday party Mibs decides to sneak on a delivery truck that's on its way to the city where her father is. Her brothers Fish and Samson will not let her go alone, and with some unexpected new friends, Mibs goes on the adventure of her lifetime for the chance to save her father.

I enjoy this book because every time I read it again, the story line is always enjoyable. It's easy to follow and fun to read. The author does a good job of developing the characters throughout the book and I feel as if I am right there with Mibs and her brothers in this adventure. I would recommend this book because it is fun and never gets old.

Reviewer's Name: Emma M.
Book Cover
Zoboi, Ibi & Salaam, Yusef
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Yusef Salaam is one of the "Central Park Five", young men of color who were incorrectly accused of raping and beating a woman jogging in Central Park in the late 80s. After the five had served their sentences of 5-15 years, they were exonerated when the real culprit came forward. This book is clearly heavily inspired by Yusef's story as it tells the story of Amal, a teen in prison for a similar crime that he did not commit. It starts with the conviction and then moves into Amal's experiences in a juvenile detention center.

Every year, there's a book that I promote really heavily in classrooms. This will definitely be that book. It's so good. So sad. So spare in that way that only books in verse can be. It takes a while to read, because sometimes you just kind of have to sit with it for a while to process it. It does such a great job of illustrating just how deeply flawed and racist our "justice" systems are. I dare you not to empathize with Amal. I can't wait to share this important book with everyone I know! Also, like, that cover y'all. So pretty. And it's relevant to the story! Anyway, consider this required reading, especially for all the folks trying to "read woke". 5 stars.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for the eARC which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Punching the Air is out 01 September - put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Book Cover
Katsoulis, Gregory Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Imagine never being able to tell someone how much you love them, or knowing the government is aware of everything you say. Every sentence is monitored. Words are no longer free to use. Companies copyright words and gestures, they fine anyone who uses them. Saying "Sorry" is ten dollars and every nod or scream is .99 cents ( per second). No word is free, people are imprisoned by debt and fear. Restlessness stirs and violence is everywhere. People sue left and right for small accidents. Upon turning 15 everything changes for an individual. Cuffs are placed, listening to every word that comes out of your mouth. Retaliating can lead to extreme and inhumane punishments. Speth Jime is a fourteen-year-old who is almost fifteen when she witnesses the suicide of her friend. She decides in honor of her friend to be silent, making the world stand still. "All Rights Reserved" is a very captivating and incredible novel. Every page is filled with various twists and turns. The book represents the importance of words and the power they possess. It also shows the influence we have on others, for better or for worst.

Reviewer's Name: Isabella J.
Awards:
Book Cover
O'Brien, Tim
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Things They Carried is a memoir by Tim O'Brien about his experiences as an American soldier fighting in the Vietnam War. O'Brien was chosen to be drafted in 1968. This incident was extremely stressful for O'Brien who had taken a stand against the war, yet didn't want to disappoint his community. He pondered running away to Canada, but eventually decided to fight. The Things They Carried is a series of stories that are so well written. The work is a bit hard to understand just because O'Brien wrote it in a way that is not completely nonfiction. In the book, he explains this concept more in depth. Overall, I thought this book was a very well written, interesting, and educational story regarding the horrors of war from O'Brien's perspective in Vietnam.

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P.
Book Cover
Cholodenko, Gennifer
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Al Capone Does My Shirts was a required summer reading book for me this year. The plot of the story was how an eleven-year old boy named Moose left his San Francisco home to live on the prison island Alcatraz because his father had to relocate there for work. Moose’s sister Natalie, who sadly suffered from autism, was trying to get into a special school, but the principal would not let her join. Moose tries to get her into the school, while trying to still play baseball and do other things on his own.
On a scale of five stars, I would give it a four for the following reasons:
1. The plot was easy to follow, but at the same time you never knew what was going to happen next.
2. The character development was excellent, because you could easily relate and understand the characters' predicaments.
3. I thought the book was clever, funny, and meaningful.

For all of these reasons, I would give Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko four stars.

Reviewer's Name: Zach M.
Book Cover
Smith, Roland
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about twins Marty and Grace O’Hara. Their photojournalist parents left for work in the Amazon Rainforest on a project regarding nature, but they were killed in a terrible airplane accident.

After a couple of months pass without any trace of their parents, the twins are pulled out of school, because no one can pay for their schooling anymore. With this decision, Marty is very happy, while Grace isn't. Now, without a home, the twins are suddenly thrust into the care of their uncle they had never even met. Their uncle lives on a private island that he owns, searching for cryptids, and he even founded the famous company eWolfe. Cryptid hunters or cryptozoologists are people who find animals thought to be extinct, to never exist, or to be mythological.

Another cryptid hunter, and nemesis of Uncle Travis Wolfe, Noah Blackwood tries to steal a so-called “dinosaur egg” from Uncle. Following this event, Marty and Grace get involved in the conflict between the two which discloses some complicated family backstory.

To escape this inferior situation, the twins decide to go to a forest on one of their uncle’s helicopters, and skydive into the trees in hope to find their missing parents, and to have an adventure of a lifetime.

With this book constantly keeping you interested, I'm going to go with 4/5 stars for Cryptid Hunters.

Reviewer's Name: Gurman G.
Book Cover
Winthrop, Elizabeth
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about Mrs. Phillips, a housekeeper who has cared for William since he was born. But now, years later, she decides to return to her family. Since Mrs. Phillips doesn’t have children, she gives William a toy castle that has been traveling down her family tree for centuries.

This castle is placed in William’s attic as the name suggests. But since William has been with Mrs. Phillips forever, William tries to stop her from leaving him, but eventually Mrs. Phillips doesn’t change her mind, so, finally he goes to see the castle, where he discovers magic and then traps Mrs. Phillips inside the castle by shrinking her. Then, when Mrs. Phillips gets angry with William, he decides to turn her back to normal, but for that he has to go on a quest in another world, where he encounters many challenges including escaping an enchanted forest, defeating a dragon, and then turning Mrs. Phillips back to her proper size.

With this book constantly keeping you on your toes, I'm going to go with 4/5 stars for Castle In The Attic.

Reviewer's Name: Gurman G.
Genres:
The Maze Runner
Dashner, James
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Maze Runner is the first book in James Dashner's dystopian trilogy. It follows Thomas, a teenager who finds himself trapped in a maze with a group of boys and no memory of his past. This book kept me on my toes, and I couldn't put it down. It was intense and mysterious with a gripping plot and a diverse group of characters. I would definitely recommend this book to teens who love action packed adventure and the ideas presented through futuristic worlds!

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Rowling, J.K.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is an excellent adventure novel with an great perspective of family, love and death. The novel tells the story of a young boy named Harry Potter who learns that he possess magical powers and is the son of two powerful wizards. The story follows his life as a orphaned child living with his aunt and uncle where he learns of his magical powers and is invited to Hogwarts, the school of witchcraft and wizardry. At this school he meets his fellow wizards and friends and undergoes a spectacular journey through which he finds his identity. Although Harry's life and story is quite unique he is a character that many people can and will relate to which makes this story a excellent read as you can envision yourself in his shoes. It is through the authors excellent storytelling techniques that the reader will be engaged and enticed through the novel.

Reviewer's Name: Talal
Genres:
Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story
Tobia, Jacob
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Sissy is complex, introspective piece about gender and sexuality and how society's view can impact self-worth. Jacob Tobia recounts experiences throughout their life that have impacted them in the manner of their gender and sexuality and their self acceptance of themself. They reveal how even as a young child they identified more with femininity than their born masculinity and how that brought out negative feelings in those around them, including their parents. Tobia expresses how the trials they have faced have made them into who they are today but they wish queer identities were more accepted. A rousing autobiography of growing up queer, Sissy inspires the reader to open their mind to what is different and look within themselves and ask the question "Is it really black or white?".

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
The Tao of Pooh
Hoff, Benjamin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The How of Pooh?
5 stars: Explains Tao with little snips of Pooh.

The Tao of Pooh is a well-written book that captures the essence of Tao-ism using little snippets of the adventures of Pooh. I loved this book, because it explains the art of Tao in a simplistic way, which is very fitting, because Tao is the art of simplicity. The precepts of Tao are explained very well in this book. If you want to learn how to not overthink, and how to learn without learning, read this book. A final note, I may not agree with some of the things written in this book, but I still appreciate the Tao, and I hope you do too!

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
The Crown's Game
Skye, Evelyn
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Crown's Game is a Russian inspired fantasy set in the 1800's. It's told in duel-perspective from Vika and Nikolai, the only enchanters left in a country deprived of magic, they're both competing for the position of Imperial Enchanter through and ancient competition called the Crown's Game. A game where there can only be one winner and the other competitor is sentenced to death.
I really enjoyed the historical setting of the book. As well as the politics we get to see among the royal family. I like that it was told in duel-perspectives because it was interesting to see what both of the main characters are thinking. Also because it adds to the tension between the two characters and intrigue to the plot.
I think the book could have benefited from clearly labeling what perspective each chapter was told from, although I don't think it was that big of an issue because after a few sentences you could tell what the perspective was. Also some of the descriptions at the beginning of the book are a bit cheesy but the issue goes away as the book progresses.

Reviewer's Name: Savannah
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Rowling, J.K.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book follows 17-year-old Harry Potter, who is trying to defeat Voldemort while he still has the chance because Voldemort is planning to take over the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. Then, he plans on creating trouble in the non-wizardry world which is a normal world with humans like us.

So, Harry, Ron and Hermione start a mission to go find and destroy partsof Voldemort's soul, the Horcruxes. This group of three must rely on each other because they can no longer trust anyone else, but Ron gets frustrated at their slow progress of destroying the Horcruxes, and then he surprisingly leaves the group.

This book is full of memorable parts, like in one, Harry learns that he has to die in order to defeat Voldemort, so he walks CALMLY into the forest, where Voldemort patiently waits to kill Harry Potter.

With the ultimate finale better than expected, this book is a must read. So I'm going to go with 4/5 stars for Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows.

Reviewer's Name: Gurman
The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a fairly good science fiction novel that deals with the themes of family, love and sacrifice. The novel takes place in the nation of Panem. A nation that consists of 12 districts and a capital which controls the nation. In the nation of Panem there is the annual event called the Hunger Games. It is an event in which each district sends a pair males and females aged 12-18 to participate in a to the death battle that is shown on tv. The story follows the protagonist Katniss Everdeen as she volunteers to participate in the Hunger Games after her sister is chosen. The novel illustrates her journey through the difficulties of the Hunger Games and how it affects her life forever. The Hunger Games is a good novel through which you will think critically about the issues and problems in the story and how they are prevalent in our world.

Reviewer's Name: Talal