Historical

Book Review: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Author
See, Lisa
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

As both a tea lover and someone who is interested in world cultures, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was an absolutely fascinating read. The story follows the path of a minority Chinese woman who grows up in the Yunnan province tea mountains and her journey back to someone she lost. With a focus on the fermented tea Pu' erh tea, the book details the many processes for making, aging, and steeping the highly sought after tea. I really enjoyed that the author went in depth on the tea making process, especially the Chinese traditions and culture surrounding the practice of drinking tea. Unlike any book I have read, this educational and inspiring piece of literature is a must read for any bibliophile.

Reviewer's Name
Maddie

Book Review: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 3

Author
Gotouge, Koyoharu
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Volume 3 is a perfect introduction to the real world of the demon slayers. After Tanjiro faces off against two powerful demons, we meet Zenitsu, the second main protagonist. The lore of the demon race really starts to unfold in this volume, and seeing it be almost as fleshed out as that of the Demon Slayer Corps is very intriguing. As the exposition starts to pick up the pace towards the main plot, the action and drawing are beautiful. Again, I would recommend this volume to those continuing the series. This graphic novel is relatively light and easy to get invested in, so anyone could get into it!

Reviewer's Name
Steven

Book Review: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 2

Author
Gotoge, Koyoharu
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

While the first volume of this wonderful series was a straightforward backstory, volume 2 presents a glimpse at what makes Demon Slayer so entertaining. The sub-plots start being developed with Tanjiro joining the Demon Slayer Corps. Much of the main cast is introduced, and the real thrill and dangers of the series are introduced. The atmosphere of the series comes out in full force during these chapters, and as just the second volume, many events are set up perfectly. Overall, I would recommend this graphic novel series to anyone continuing the series. If you are looking to get into this fantastic world, starting with the TV show or volume 1 is the way to go.

Reviewer's Name
Steven

Book Review: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 1

Author
Gotoge, Koyoharu
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The first volume of Demon Slayer serves as a fantastic exposition to the main protagonist Kamado Tanjiro. It builds up his basic backstory and also sets the plot of the story. The art style and designs of the graphic novel are captivating and seeing some of the intricate foreshadowings during a reread is entertaining. As much as I love the series altogether, the introduction is rather basic and is not very innovative other than through its concept. Overall, I would recommend this volume to anyone looking for a new graphic novel or series to get invested in.

Reviewer's Name
Steven

Book Review: Robinson Crusoe

Author
Defoe, Daniel
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Robinson Crusoe is an incredibly fun novel to read. It is a fictional autobiography about the character Robinson Crusoe and his adventures while shipwrecked on an island. While the book does use some confusing language at times, the creative results it produces are greatly entertaining. The book starts slow, however, the pacing of the book almost depicts the exact development of Crusoe through his stagnant start and then a life of adventure later on. Around a third into the book, Robinson Crusoe simply states that he would focus on only the important parts of his adventure due to his lack of ink. It is at this point where the book starts to shine, and Robinson's island survival starts to mix supernaturalism and realism. The novel does not have any super deep themes and rather opts to just tell a straightforward story, unlike many modern island survival novels that attempt to be thought-provoking. Overall, the novel was a fantastic read. I would recommend this book to any person that enjoys adventure and survival.

Reviewer's Name
Steven

Book Review: Invisible Man

Author
Ellison, Ralph
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is an essential American classic. Written in the late 1940s, it tells the story of a young African American man who moves north during the Harlem Renaissance and faces many trials as he attempts to find his place in society. This novel is a candid portrayal of life for Black Americans in the pre-Civil Rights era, exposing the hardships and prejudices that are often overlooked in retrospect but were all too real for Blacks during this time. It is honest, reflective, and blunt; often unsettling and disturbing. A central theme of Ellison's novel is the idea of blindness and how it affects identity. The protagonist is left confused and misguided as a result of the blindness of those he encounters, trying to fit into the expectations of others, until at last he realizes that he is, and has always been, "invisible" to society. With this revelation, the invisible man at last finds his own identity.

The novel recounts all of the events leading to the protagonist's discovery of his invisibility, beginning at his colored college in the south and taking the audience north to Harlem. The protagonist faces many different circumstances which reveal just how marginalized Blacks were in the United States in the 30s; each episode is a testament to the challenges faced by African Americans (even a reflection of the challenges faced by African Americans today) due to the blind discrimination of white people. Each incident faced by the invisible man is largely a reiteration of previous ones, merely taking place in different circumstances, which emphasizes his lack of identity--even his own blindness. Eventually, due to an unfortunate incident, the protagonist loses all sense of who he used to be, and this is what allows him to begin to make change--for better or worse. There are numerous violent and suggestive scenes in this novel, so I would recommend it to older, more mature teenagers.

Ellison takes his readers on a powerful, enlightening journey with Invisible Man. His compelling writing is intertwined with tragic humor and soulful undertones of blues and jazz, the backdrop for an incredibly raw and moving novel. The invisible man's story is very relevant to society today, and Ellison's messages should serve as reminders to us all. I believe every American would benefit from reading this novel at some point in their life; it illustrates such an important part of our nation's history, and that of African Americans. Ellison portrays the protagonist's emotions with such introspective depth, every conflict and thought explored in all its complexities. Invisible Man may not be a particularly fun read, but it is important and it is worthwhile.

Reviewer's Name
Alexa

Book Review: Great Expectations

Author
Dickens, Charles
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

Great Expectations is a story about a young boy, Pip. It starts off with Pip in his expected life, a Blacksmith with his Stepfather Joe. When he comes of age to be apprenticed, he is sent to a mansion to work, under the employ of a strange Miss Havisham. She flips his views upside down, while breaking his confidence in himself. He sees himself and his friends, the Commoners, as dirty and common. His hopes change as well, but are broken.
The story in this is intriguing, as well as long and dense. I personally didn't like this one, but you might.

Reviewer's Name
Ethan

Book Review: Anne of Green Gables

Author
Montgomery, L. M.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

I've read this book many times, and it's always been one of my favorites. It tells the story of Anne Shirley (Anne spelt with an e, mind you) -- a spirited orphan who, by mistake, is sent to live with the old pair of siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, on Green Gables farm in the small Canadian town of Avonlea. Anne is smart, friendly, talkative, and most of all, highly imaginative. She proves to be a handful for the Cuthberts, but overall, the friendships she develops, the scrapes she gets into, and just Anne herself are so lovely and heartwarming. I found her relatable on a profound level. While it may not be as thrilling as a fantasy, Anne of Green Gables is a classic that I would recommend to just about anyone.

Reviewer's Name
Elanor

Book Review: The Red Pencil

Author
Pinkney, Andrea Davis
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

I actually analyzed The Red Pencil as a choice book for English class, but I really enjoyed it. It's told through a series of first-person poems, rather than the standard prose, which I liked because it helped me go deeper into the main character's perspective and her feelings about the things that were happening to her. The book tells the story of Amira, a twelve-year-old Sudanese girl whose village is destroyed by the Janjaweed as part of the Darfur conflict. She aspires to go to school where she can learn to read and write, and, among her numerous trials, finds relief through her art. The book is a work of fiction, but pulls from many stories that Andrea Davis-Pinkney gathered from real survivors of the Darfur conflict who faced similar challenges to Amira. The Red Pencil is very well-written and effective at evoking emotion and empathetic responses, and it provides the reader with insight into a life very different than the typical American's. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Reviewer's Name
Elanor

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

Author
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald brings the audience flying back to the roaring 20s. The roaring 20s where prohibition is in effect, there is a lot of money, and people are going to speakeasies. Throughout the Great Gatsby the reader sees the insides of the richer citizens of New York lives, which involves scandalous events, lies/cheating, and glamours parties. The story is told through the perspective of Nick Carraway about his neighbor, Jay Gatsby's life. Overall, the novel is very well-written and it keep me wanting to read more and more. I really liked the novel because it allowed me to see more into the roaring 20s rather than what a history books educates you on. Once you finish this book, you will be in complete and utter shock due to the surprise ending.
Reviewer grade:11

Reviewer's Name
Lana