Historical

Book Review: All Quiet on the Western Front

Author
Remarque, Erich Maria,
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque can solely be described as an ingenious masterpiece. The book, a historical fiction novel, was written in 1928 about German soldiers' experiences during World War I; Remarque used his experiences as a german soldier to accurately portray the terror of war. The main characters, Paul Bäumer, Albert Kropp, Franz Müller, and Ludwig Behm, are remarkably realistic and, throughout the book, go through changes caused by the nature of war, essentially turned into humans run by animal instincts. Throughout the book, Remarque ripes away any possible notion of romantic ideas relating to war and perfectly encapsulates the true terror of war. Overall, I wholeheartedly believe that everyone should read this masterpiece.

Reviewer's Name
Lucia

Book Review: Circe

Author
Miller, Madeline
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Critically acclaimed author Madline Miller takes on Greek mythology in a way never done before. In her novel Circe, a lonely child, born from the sun god Helios and a nymph mother, tries to find her way within a world where she does not quite fit. Her father is too powerful to relate to, and her mother wishes Circe had not been born. Not to mention, Circe’s siblings dislike her greatly, and make her life insufferable. It is only when her father, Helios, sends her away to a secluded island where she cannot leave, that she finds the missing piece she has been looking for all her life. Filled with secret romances, magic, sea monsters, mysterious sailors, and man-pigs, Circe is a novel that will wreck your heart and leave you angry for justice. Her isolation is familiar to us all, and reminds us of the importance of loving ourselves. This is a must read!
Reviewer - Grade 12

Reviewer's Name
Hanna

Cathedral of the Sea

Image
Cathedral of the Sea
Author
Falcones, Ildefonso
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Cathedral Of The Sea closely follows true events in Catalonia during the 1300s under King Pedro’s reign. It is about the cruelty of the Holi persons and the king of that time. As the men of God, they take best food and live luxurious life. On the other side, people are dying from hunger, different kind of diseases and they have nothing to feed their children especially the Jews. Jews are killed by Christians just because of their religion even they think Jews do not have the right to live. In this novel, religion is broadly used to terrify the people and to maintain rule over them. Sometimes, these kind of holy persons get their soul poisoned because of their greedy nature. Everyone should have the right to follow his/ her religion freely.

Reviewer's Name
Muhammad N.

The Song of Achilles

Image
The Song of Achilles
Author
Miller, Madeline
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The Song of Achilles was written in 2011 by American writer Madeline Miller. It is an adoption of Homer's Iliad and is a retelling of the great Greek warrior Achilles. The tale is told from the perspective of Patroclus. The novel follows the romantic relationship between Patroclus and Achilles as it is written in the novel.

*"He is half of my soul, as the poets say."*
*Madeline Miller, by using their relationship, is trying to show the role of men in ancient Greek society and how homosexuality was viewed in that era. The most pleasing thing about this novel is Miller's poetic writing and how beautifully she has painted the vivid picture of the emotions of all the characters, and it has taken me into another world while I was reading.
There are some debates that have been going on for centuries until today. For example, the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles has been debated for centuries, and still there is no clear evidence of whether they were lovers or close comrades. The second one is that Helen was the cause of the Trojan War, and destroying thousands of ships and men just for a woman is foolishness. As Dr. Faustus says:

*"Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium?"*
Mean by there, is she that much beautiful that kings are willing to destroy anything?

The novel also contains many themes. The first one is *"honour and pride".* Achilles fights for his honour because he wants his name to be remembered, in the same way Agamemnon and Menelaus fight for their pride, which they lost when Helen was kidnapped by the king of Troy. For Greeks, honour and pride is everything, and they prefer to sacrifice their lives over honour and glory. They believe that sometimes violence is needed to prove one's pride. As it is set down in the text:

" *The sons of Troy are known for their skill in battle, and their deaths will lift your name to the stars."*

The second major theme is *impulse to show power*. Achilles, Agamemnon, and Menelaus fight for power and want to have control over their lives; one of the biggest reasons for participating in battle is to showcase their power. Besides this,the powerlessness of women like Helen, Briseis, and Deidmeia can be seen in the novel. Agamemnon treats Briseis badly as a wench or a war prize, and also, Helen is forced to choose a husband even though she doesn't want a husband.

*To conclude* , the novel is a wonderful piece of literature and deserves to be read because the way Medellin Miller has described all the events and feelings of all the characters makes you feel the same.

Reviewer's Name
Muhammad N.

Book Review: The Three Musketeers

Author
Dumas, Alexandre
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Despite its lack of general theme, Dumas' The Three Musketeers is a beloved classic. The story follows a young man D'Artagnan as he serves under M. de Treville, the head of the French king's musketeers (Athos, Porthos, and Aramis). As he spends more time with the musketeers, D'Artagnan is caught up in the convoluted politics of the king and jealous cardinal. Somehow, however, in the epic tale of adventure, companionship, romance, and betrayal, Dumas' message is lost to the fast-paced plot. His use of dialogue is masterful in creating realistic suspense between characters; not in all 600+ pages is there a dull moment. Overall, however, The Three Musketeers is best read for an interesting story and nothing else. The main cast is well-developed and serve as contrasts to each other. Although the plot itself is well-constructed, the events lack any greater relationship to each other beyond causation. When I picked this book up, I expected the adventure to follow some sort of formula to parallel D'Artagnan's personality; his personality, however, has little impact on the general plot. Dumas' talent in diction and ability to tell a story is evident, and The Three Musketeers was an enjoyable read, as long as you know what to expect.
Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Samah

Book Review: The Crucible

Author
Miller, Arthur
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Hysteria, spreading throughout Salem, Massachusetts in the 17th century. Teenage girls, being accused of witchcraft for dancing in the woods. A puppet with a needle that can cost someone’s life. Agreeing on execution in order to protect the good name for your family. Mass trials on people being suspected of doing magic. Sounds crazy? Welcome to the world of The Crucible.
The play by Arthur Miller takes us to Salem in a period of witch trials. Everything starts pretty prosaic: a girl named Abigail wants to get love from a local farmer, John Proctor. As it often happens, she finds a love potion the easiest way to reach the desirable goal, however, she, her friends and the family slave Tituba get caught on doing this ritual late at night.
Nobody wants to be punished. Nobody will believe a slave over his own daughter or niece. Considering these two statements, Abigail decides to avoid a punishment by accusing Tituba and the entire list of other women in a town of being witches.
And here is when things start to go heels overhead. Like a huge snowball that captures everything that is on its way, panic enhances more and more people around. Men and women are being executed for no true reason. Even an expert in demonology is invited to take part in the case. And in all this chaos Abigail makes another attempt to get a chance for a future together with John Proctor.
The action develops dynamically in the play, and the characters add more tension to the plot with their bright personalities. You can’t stay indifferent. You either love or, more likely, hate them. A lot of situation are ironic and absurd, however, the play tastes bitter, when you realize how many people had to struggle because of someone’s stupid wish and lack of responsibility.
The book refers a lot to the time of McCarthyism, which had impacted the author’s life in particular. It makes a strong impact on the audience, especially, in the end, and leaves the readers with a lot of questions: Do people change? Is reputation worth sacrificing your life? Whom to believe and what to deny?
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Oleksandra

Book Review: The Book Thief

Author
Zusak, Markus
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The Book Thief starts in January 1939, in Nazi Germany. The main character, Liesel, was traveling on a train with her mother and brother when her brother suddenly dies. Liesel was only nine at the time, and the wound that was inflicted then, she would bear forever. At her brother's burial site, she stole a book for the first time, earning her the name "The Book Thief". Her story is told from the perspective of Death, who is depicted as an immortal being with feelings and a heart.

Liesel then traveled to Himmel Street, where she lived with her foster parents for the remainder of the book. Liesel made new friends, finds a family, and overcomes the grief caused by her brother's passing there. But most importantly, she discovered the power and impact of words there. The power of words is the central theme or message of The Book Thief.

Throughout the book, Liesel steals more books and becomes braver and more mature. Initially, she was a child who didn't know about all the beauty and ugliness in the world. But as the plot developed, she experienced more of the brutality of WW2 and found her role in her community. After she learned to read, she started to spread the love that was caused by words to her neighbors, by reading out loud during air raids. She also learned to love and understand people better.

The author, Markus Zusak, used the symbolism of colors to illustrate a picture of the world that Liesel lived in. For example, when Death described a scene, the sky was always a different color or texture. When describing a bloody battlefield, the sky was described as plasticky, to show the stillness and emptiness that was caused by the death of soldiers.

I highly recommend this book to readers looking for a thought-provoking and intense book. Liesel's and the other characters' lives were presented in a very relatable way, which will make readers question their own attitudes on life and the world.

Reviewer's Name
Nabhanya

Miss Aldridgte Regrets

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Miss Aldridge Regrets
Author
Hare, Louise
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

If you are a fan of locked room mysteries, you will enjoy Miss Aldridge Regrets! It is a historical mystery set in 1936 London. Lena Aldrige is a mixed race nightclub singer in a Soho nightclub. The club's owner is murdered and Lena isn't sure what she is going to do when a chance of lifetime drops in her lap. She is approached by a man who said his boss knew her father and wants to offer her a job starring in a Broadway show and will pay passage for her first-class on the Queen Mary. Lena takes the offer and is looking forward to her new life in New York. But as her trip unwinds, people on the ship start to be murdered and she looks like the prime suspect. There are a few other surprised for Lena as well. This was a wonderful mystery and a great start to the Canary Club Mystery Series.

Reviewer's Name
Melissa

The Star that Always Stays

Image
The Star that Always Stays
Author
Johnson, Anna Rose
Rating
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

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See

Author
Doerr, Anthony
Rating
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