All Book Reviews

The Night Sky: A Frozen Discovery Book
Ditcher, Paul
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Learn about the night sky with your friends Anna, Elsa, and Olaf from Disney’s Frozen. Each topic is explored and connected to part of the Frozen story. You can learn about Northern Lights, Seasons, Stars, the planets, Eclipses, and more. If you are a fan of Frozen, this book is a great resource to learn more the science of our night sky.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Easy Origami Woodland Animals
Montroll, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

John Montroll teaches us how to make a forest full of woodland animals witheasy origami. The step-by-step instructions will help you create animals such as squirrels, skunks, bear, and ducks. Have fun creating!

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Genres:
What Is Water?
Nelson, Robin
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Are you curious about water and its properties? This book can help. You’ll learn about the different states that water can occupy – solid, liquid, and gas. You’ll learn water facts and about rainbows. A great starter book!

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Nothing But The Truth
Avi
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"Nothing But the Truth," an documentary novel by Avi, depicts a small student-teacher quarrel that became a national headline. The book starts with one's average teenage boy named Philip Malloy. He runs track and is a fairly good student. His arch nemesis and least favorited teacher, Miss Narwin, thinks poorly of Philip, especially after he is switched to her homeroom. The day is always begun with the playing of the national anthem, but when Phil starts to "sing" along, Miss Narwin starts to lose it. After suspensions, interviews with newspapers, and nation wide fame, Philip must not only figure out how to deal with his newly renowned fame, but also how to deal with being honest about what is really going on. This book was a great, quick read. The way the book was composed made for easy reading and enjoyability. "Nothing But the Truth" was written in 1992, but the topic is still relevant decades later. With the kneeling during the national anthem in the NFL to other highly debated political topics, "Nothing But the Truth" is a great book for a quick but thoughtful read.

Reviewer's Name: Ella S
Genres:
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Orczy, Baronness Emmuska
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a wonderful book that incorporates the idealism of the French Revolution to create a unique setting. The historical adventure story is filled with a great blend of suspense, thrills, and romance. The developments included in the story are well-executed and the characters are all full of life. The overarching plot is also intriguing and will captivate the reader until the end of the book. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who like a bit a history.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Sense and Sensibility
Austen, Jane
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In the classic Jane Austen novel "Sense & Sensibility", three sisters -- Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret -- face a new life after their father dies and they are forced to move to a new home. The sisters' relationships are tested as they balance emotional turmoil, suitors, and new beginnings. I loved this book -- partly because Austen's writing style is straightforward and far easier to read than most classics -- and because of how much time Austen took to masterfully develop her characters. The relationship between Elinor (who is sensible and logical) and her sister Marianne (who is emotional and has a love for drama) is deep and complicated. As the story progresses, we see different sides of the sisters as they struggle to grow in their new environment. I absolutely loved this story. Honestly, there isn't a single negative thing I can say about it. I would highly recommend it to someone who doesn't like classic novels, because I think "Sense & Sensibility" could definitely change their minds.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In Mary Shelley's classic novel "Frankenstein", a young ambitious scientist decides to play God and, in the process, creates a monster. As the monster struggles with self-identity and the meaning of his life, he enacts revenge on his creator by destroying everything he loves. Any time you dive into a classic novel, it can be difficult to keep your expectations from getting too high. This novel met pretty much all of mine -- the rich character development of both Frankenstein and the monster, the excellent use of suspense and foreboding to create tension, and the well-paced action. There were definitely some slow parts, but that's mostly because the writing style has changed so much between then and now. However, the multiple perspectives helped keep things moving when they began to slow down. I really enjoyed this novel but I had one fairly big complaint: the ending felt rushed. I felt that we were building up to a much more action-packed ending, but things fizzle out very quickly and the novel ends on a strangely unsatisfying note. I think that there could've been more time spent creating a strong conclusion to a really strong story. Besides that, this classic is excellent and definitely worth a read.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Awards:
Professor at Large: The Cornell Years
Cleese, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As a John Cleese fan, it was fun to be able to learn of another of his endeavors - serving as a Professor at Large at Cornell for 10 years! The texts in the book are a collection of some of his lectures over the years. They, of course, elaborate on many of his performance experiences but they also provide a broader view of his other interests.

All the Monty Python group are intelligent and creative, so it is no surprise that Cleese's intellect has been engaged on many fronts over the years. He is also much like his character in comedy in not suffering fools gladly or otherwise. I was pleased to note that he became quite involved in many different schools of learning while on the Cornell campus, and contributed to the thinking of both students and staff.

There is some repetition of topic, but as the student body would experience a turnover over the years, I would expect that important topics would emerge again anyway.

This was a fun and informative read. Since it was a series of lectures, it was easy to pick up and put down without losing the gist of things.

Reviewer's Name: Catherine
Land Mammals and Sea Creatures
Neale, Jen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I believe there are many factors that will determine whether or not a reader enjoys this book. It is a first novel by this author and the reader's age may impact their willingness to immerse themselves in an environment, however fictional, that is, from the outset, purposefully created to be offensive to one's sensory organs. This is, and continues to be, crucial to both the plot of the book and an underlying message.

The characters are realistic and set in what is generally considered to be a gorgeous part of Canada's Pacific Coast, British Columbia. But the events of the book usually overwhelm one's ability to bask in that beauty for long. While the sadness of the characters' lives and the ugliness of their relationships with their environment are not without purpose, it is a tough read.

Including motherlessness, PTSD, isolation, human destruction of the environment and suicide in one book rarely makes for light reading. But it would be helpful to the reader to envelope those topics in a book that provides some wisdom or hope for progress on more than one front.

The author seems to be presenting some positive rationales for suicide, but these characters are all so far gone by the time the story begins that it is just another false glimmer to think that the outcome is anything more than part of the death all around them.

Reviewer's Name: Catherine
Awards:
Back in Society
Beaton, M.C.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Mildly entertaining, The "Poor Relations" Series isn't nearly as suspenseful, nor well-written as Marion Chesney's popular "Hamish MacBeth" Series, nor as interesting and comical as the feisty Agatha Raisin of the "The Agatha Raisin Series". With the exception of a few of the characters, such as the loathsome, ill-mannered Sir Philip and the interesting Lady Fortescue and Harriet, the former cook and now the Duchess of Rowcester, the heroine of this book, Lady Jane is a Lilly-livered character who although young, cannot stand up for herself in any situation. She is so unlike the sharp-tongued, independent, although vulnerable Agatha Raisin that her character is seems like a "doormat". Unlike the first book of this series "The Poor Relations", which heralded the strength of character, independence and backbone of each character, the plot of this book seems contrived and somewhat unbelievable, perhaps because no young woman in this day and age would be as weak as it's "heroine" Lady Jane. This book was written in '94, under the pseudonym of Marion Chesney, perhaps when M.C. Beaton's was developing her writing style. However, in this day of strong, independent women, the Cinderella story of being rescued by Prince Charming this hackneyed story seems boring and mundane.

The excellent writing of M.C. Beaton seems to be absent in this novel, and the "damsel's in distress" theme of "Back in Society" is dated and uninteresting!

Reviewer's Name: TD
Becoming
Obama, Michelle
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In Becoming, former First Lady Michelle Obama shares the journey of her humble roots growing up in the South Side of Chicago to becoming First Lady of the United States. The book paints a picture of a woman who has struggled with the question "Am I good enough?" for much of her life, but has persevered through her doubts. It also gives a picture of Barack Obama's political aspirations and rise to the Presidency. Even for those who disagree with Obama's politics, the book depicts the portrait of a man who entered politics because he truly desired and believed he could make the US a better place to live, and shows both Barack & Michelle Obama's commitment to public service. In that sense, it prompts the reader to stop & consider, what are my core values, and what am I fighting for to make the world a better place? It's an inspiring read when considered through this lens.

Reviewer's Name: Carrie
Priest of Bones
McLean, Peter
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It took me a good long time to read this book. I started reading it and I
would stop, then I’d try to start it again. Then I decided to just buckle
down and read the book. I have to say it was a pretty darn good book.

I wasn’t expecting it to be the first in a series, but as I started coming
closer and closer to the end, I realized that it may well be part of a series
– and I was right, it is. The book takes you on a journey of what happens
in a medieval style world when someone comes home from war and realizes that
a new war is brewing and it’s starting in his own city. The book is rather
slow to start and at times doesn’t make sense, but anything that doesn’t
make sense at the time will be clarified later in the book.

This particular novel is written memoir style – the narrator refers to his
having written things which is an interesting concept. Usually you don’t
see novels written as memoirs with the narrator stating that he or she had
written something earlier. I fully expect that if this series were to become
movies, that you’d find an old, wizened man at the end closing a notebook
in which he’d written the entire sordid tale.

The book was well written and I have to admit, although it isn’t normally
my type of book, I was into it. The characters were developed as much as they
needed to be and the ones that aren’t, well, there’s a reason for it.
Some of them don’t need it, some of them don’t need it right now. Read
the book and you’ll see.

Reviewer's Name: Charity
Genres:
Of Mice and Men
Steinbeck, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Of Mice and Men is a true classic. It is a gripping tale of friendship and tragedy that takes place during the Great Depression. Lennie and George are very well-developed characters and their story of fulfilling their American Dream is one that you won't want to put down. Of Mice and Men is a surprisingly short read, but its story is enormous. While the book does include some controversial topics, it is still a very good read that I would recommend to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Awards:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Chbosky, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age story of Charlie through his letters to someone he seeks guidance from, although we do not know the name or identity of the person who receives his letters. It is Charlie’s first year of high school and he writes to find comfort in simply telling his story to someone else. This was a beautiful book about the actuality of the dark corners of life and the necessity of good friendships. I picked this book up out of interest in watching the movie afterward, and it was a good decision to read it because I learned so much about true love and life through Charlie’s search for who he wants to be. This story is specific to Charlie’s life but is relatable to anyone who is struggling through the questions of their own personality and relationships. Overall, I highly recommend this book to people who just need to feel love and to learn that even in loss they will be okay.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Anya G
The Power of Six
Lore, Pittacus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The sequel to I am Number Four is just as thrilling and action packed as the first. John, Sam, and Six set out as fugitives and work to find the others as we meet Seven. Seven is also known as Marina and lives in a convent/orphanage in Spain while she convinces her Cepan to rejoin the fight and develops her legacies. Complete with numerous battles, close escapes, incredible powers, and fun characters, The Power of Six is an excellent read for any middle or high schoolers.

Reviewer's Name: John B
Armada
Cline, Ernest
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In a science fiction world shown by Ernest Cline, the protagonist, Zack Lightman, seems to have the whole world against him. His Dad has died in a freak accident, his school as well as his social life is miserable, and to make things worse everyone thinks he has gone crazy after breaking under this pressure. Having no interest in the real world, Zack throws himself into the vast world of science fiction and video games. One of his favorite games is a game called “Armada”, which is essentially a flight simulator involving space based combat. Not all is as it seems after a slew of strange missions and movements by the military it may be that this game is all too real. In this amazing work of science fiction by Ernest Cline, the future of Earth’s survival is seen through the eyes of Ernest’s protagonist. I greatly enjoyed this book, mostly due to the nature of the protagonist, Zack Lightman and the light humor played out on more serious concepts. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Saga
Kostick, Conor
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book gives its audience a look into a virtual world that has run without human intervention for many decades. In this world the many NPCs have developed intelligence and personality, becoming almost human. This world is run by a strict, class based society, where each class is separated by “color”. Originally used to represent levels like in a game, it now is used by the matriarch of this society to suppress the many artificial intelligences that make up this world’s citizens. One of these citizens, Ghost, fights back against the system which eventually ends up with her in a bit of trouble. Soon after this, some familiar characters show up, such as Erik and from then on the story continues. In this virtual world shown in Conor Kostick’s book, the real world concepts of artificial intelligence interweave with the many dynamic characters’ actions and thoughts. Due to this and the premise of the story, this book has turned out to be one of my favorites so far. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a blend of dystopia and science fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Prodigy
Lu, Marie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In the second book in the Legend trilogy, the story begins in a world shattered by an extreme rise in sea level. The protagonists, Day and June have escaped the Republic’s forces and are heading towards Vegas. When they arrive, the dictator of the Republic, the Elector Primo, dies and his heir takes his place. Presented with a mission from a rebel group known as the Patriots, the duo is tasked with assassinating this new leader. June, seeing this new ruler is different, is conflicted by both the world she left behind as a member of the Republic and the world she now knows from her experiences with Day. In this action packed book, Marie Lu explores many concepts that are both relevant to the reader and thought invoking, through the conflicting perspectives presented by her two protagonists. The world put out before this book’s audience gives its characters breath as well as gives the reader a stunning view into a different world. One of my favorite aspects of this book is the dynamic protagonists and the direct look into their development throughout the story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in a dystopian science fiction story placed in the not so distant future.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Epic
Kostick, Conor
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book presents a colony world far from Earth, in which power in a virtual reality based game means everything. The protagonist, Erik, lives in a less privileged community suppressed by the policies of the ruling administration. In an attempt to get even at the unfair treatment of his parents and their community, Erik attempts to best them in an in game arena with a team of his friends. The team they are against doesn’t necessarily play fair and Erik loses. Angry with this loss, Erik creates a new character completely on a whim, focusing on other attributes people typically don’t use. Having gone against the status quo Erik has some mysterious encounters that lead him on a quest to rediscover this virtual world. In this work of science fiction, Conor Kostick introduces his protagonist and the many other characters into a living breathing world. The openness of the world and the protagonist’s dual nature were some of the main aspects I enjoyed about this book. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction, particularly one that revolves around virtual reality.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Champion
Lu, Marie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In the final book in the Legend trilogy, the story begins in a world shattered by an extreme rise in sea level. The protagonists, Day and June have overcome the Republic’s forces and are now trying to maintain balance in the nation along with their Patriot and Republic allies. When it seems the peace has just started, the neighboring nation, the Colonies, is hit by a terrible plague outbreak. Blaming the Republic, war seems inevitable. Day and June must now overcome yet another threat in the final book in the series.
Marie Lu demonstrates one last time, the conflicting yet agreeable perspectives presented by her two protagonists and how they make this story so interesting. The world put out before this book’s audience gives its characters depth as well as gives the reader a stunning view into a different world. One of my favorite aspects of this book is the dynamic protagonists and the direct look into their development throughout the story, especially in comparison to the first book.. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in a dystopian science fiction story placed in the not so distant future.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G

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