Literature

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Author: 
Harrow, Alix E.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This beautiful work of art, is a love letter to stories and bibliophile’s everywhere. I loved Harrow’s intoxicating magical debut so much that I blew through it in 4 days! I read it back in March but it still sticks with me to this day! But I have to admit, I have been a hard time finding words to describe this magical beautiful experience of a book because it grabbed my heart so completely and did so much to me, that to try to express it in words and to remember all the intricate details has been difficult. But I am happy to report I am currently doing a re reading and so far it is just as magical, heartbreakingly tender and beautiful as the first time. I am so excited that it has finally come out and more people get to experience this epic journey into unknown worlds. This should be on everyone’s reading lists!

Meet January Scaller, a brown girl, an in between sort of thing some call her, growing up in the 1900’s a time rife with social change, and colonialism. A difficult time where the world is in transition and nothing is at it seems. January is the ward of a wealthy white benefactor, Mr. Locke, who spends his waking moments hunting for the worlds artifacts and then selling them to the highest bidder. Or more truthfully, employing people like January’s father to hunt down these treasures, so he can sell them. As a result, his sprawling estate resembles a museum decorated with treasures and all sort of odd things from around the world. Being taught to always be the good girl, she is tollerated in Mr Locke’s society but still she feels like a artifact herself.

With her father gone for months at a time and Mr. Locke attending to meetings, January grows up alone, content with wandering the lonely grounds and halls to be among it’s treasures and discover its secrets. One day when she was 7, playing amidst the wide open fields of the estate, she discovered a door, a blue ragedy door that hadn’t looked like it had been used in ages, and she wished for it to lead to elsewhere, using a old diary she had found. Next thing she new, she was stepping from the familiar into a new world unknown. When she was was older, in the same place she found the diary, she discovered a mysterious book that spoke of secret doors, other worlds, and adventure. As the pages keep turning January discovers connections and truths to her own story, that she never would have imagined and is led into a adventure of a lifetime.

Full of beautiful imagery and entrancing atmospheric prose, this story exhibits the best things I love about books and fantasy in general. Prose that flower off the page and into the reader’s imagination, a coming of age tale, a magic system based in words and stories, other lands, a wild, beautiful, strong heroine who has trouble fitting in and conforming to standards, dastardly villains, sweet friendships, and a heart of love and family at it’s center.

Stories have a way of communicating deeper truths that can’t be understood and communicated in any other way. And their is so much in this book! A imaginative tender hearted lonely adventuresome girl full of all the desires that young girls have, the yearning to be loved both romantically and by a father, and the desire to be part of a grand adventure in unknown new exciting places. This story communicates hope for better things and the understanding that their is something more. It communicates love and the need for family and belonging, it communicates the importance of discovering identity and sticking to your truths no matter what. And it communicates so many other truths that are at once both universal but at the same time, personal as stories speak to each of us differently and discovering what they say, is part of the adventure.

And everyone should go on this adventure! Everyone should read this intricate, tender hearted, complex, magical, tale that will sweep your heart between it’s pages and not let it go, even after the last page is turned.

Thank you to Orbit publisher for my ARC of this wonderful tale for review!

Reviewer's Name: 
Tawnie M.

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby
Author: 
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Great Gatsby is truly a masterpiece. The Great Gatsby tells the story of Nick and his mysterious neighbor Gatsby. Gatsby is very wealthy and throws grand parties, yet has a mysterious and possibly immoral past.
Fitzgerald is a master of imagery, character development, and mystery. Set during the Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby is a fascinating commentary on life in America. I understand why The Great Gatsby is a classic and many students are required to read it. The Great Gatsby is a wonderful book that any reader from high school to adults can enjoy and learn something from.

Reviewer's Name: 
John B

Book Review: The Odyssey

The Odyssey
Author: 
Homer
Rating: 
1 star = Yuck!
Review: 

The Odyssey is an epic poem written by Homer, and it is a literary classic about two great quests. Ten years after the fall of Troy, Odysseus still hasn't returned home to Ithaca, and his house is plagued with suitors wanting to marry his wife, Penelope. His son, Telemachus, feels overwhelmed but is sure that Odysseus isn't dead. With the help of the goddess Athena, he sets off to search for his father as the reader learns more about Odysseus's previous journey and resulting enslavement. Telemachus encounters many obstacles which shape him and build his confidence by the end of the story.
Although this book is a classic and was probably very popular in ancient Greece, it is not an enjoyable book to read. There is too much unnecessary dialogue, and the plot is excessively long. Due to the old language and lengthy descriptions, reading The Odyssey is a very strenuous task.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa H

Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: 
Lee, Harper
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This is a story that beautifully represents society in a way few novels can. Set in Maycomb, Alabama in the early 1930's, it is told from the perspective of a 6-year-old girl, Scout, as she grows, plays, and gets into trouble with her older brother, Jem, and comedic friend, Dill. Scout's wise father, Atticus, must defend an innocent black man accused of rape; along the way Scout meets people and learns things that impact her life. Meanwhile, Scout, Jem, and Dill, are determined to learn more about their mysterious neighbor and the violent rumors that surround him--sometimes getting themselves into humorous situations--and learn something surprising. The book is spectacularly and wisely written, with characters readers will connect with, and themes that are important in all readers' lives: courage, empathy, and the power of standing up for what you believe in. Scout's sense of humor and insightful observations will make readers think and keep turning the pages for more.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa H

Book Review: Les Misérables

Les Misérables
Author: 
Hugo, Victor
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

One of the most profound pieces of literature ever crafted, simply due to the fact that the main character is a metaphor for Jesus Christ. This masterpiece of prose has been well documented, however, it relates human tragedy and a profound love as only Mr. Hugo himself could have imagined the reader could absorbed. Cosette is a wonderful character as well as lil' Gavroche and he introduces unknown things to an American audience if they ever read books anymore.;)

Reviewer's Name: 
Mike S.

Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Author: 
Twain, Mark
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

A classic piece of literature, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a wonderful depiction of life along the Mississippi river and times past. Huckleberry Finn is a wild, adventurous, and self-sufficient young man who finds his way along the river with an escaped slave. Stealing, superstitions, and deception all describe the journey Huck Finn and Jim take together. They encounter rivaling families, con artists, and Tom Sawyer in their attempt to get north. Mark Twain paints a vivid picture of life in the South with slavery in a way that shows that not everyone believed the same thing. A truly fun and interesting story, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a book that will interest even the most disinterested reader.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K

Book Review: August

August
Author: 
Paula, Romina
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

A young woman dealing with grief pours out her emotions in a long emotional letter to her friend who commit suicide. I didn't quite like this book due to the long bland feel of the story. We hear her stories through her thoughts, where she rambles on about rather uninteresting things, like mice, a cat, etc. This emotional woman tends to ramble on and on about the slightest details which can make some parts feel long and drawn out. Overall, I didn't like the depressive, bland and boring mood of the story. Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Kyle Y

Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: 
Lee, Harper
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

To Kill a Mockingbird is truly a masterpiece of American literature.
Along the lines of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Harper Lee presents us with a coming of age story set in 1930s Alabama. Scout and Jem Finch explore their hometown, get into trouble, wonder about the mystery of Boo Radley, and are faced with a great challenge when their father must prove a man to be innocent. Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem's father, is a wholehearted, unprejudiced role model who always stands up for what is right and who anyone can learn a lesson from. Overall, I understand why many schools require their students to read this book as it is wonderful literature for all generations.

Reviewer's Name: 
John B

Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Author: 
Twain, Mark
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

You are slowly floating down river on a warm summer night. You have no worries as you gaze at the endless stars above you. You had a simple day; catching fish to eat and lazily laying in the sun as you float wherever the river takes you. This is the life of Huckleberry Finn.
I gave this book three out of five stars because it was good however it wasn't good enough for me to consider it one of my favorite books. I appreciated the multiple conflicts, the complexity of having several conflicts at once made the book interesting. The characters were all well developed even side characters had underlying intents, and backgrounds.
Additionally, the relationships between the characters was engaging, I especially enjoyed the dynamic between Huck and Jim. Finally, I really enjoyed the internal conflict of Huck as he traveled with a slave. Huck's moral conflict from a society being raised in a society that supports slavery was striking as a 21st century teenager. Despite the positive elements of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" it is only pretty good because I couldn't relate to the characters and the book lacked an emotional connection that would make it one of my favorite books. Regardless, you should read this book for to develop an understanding of the culture of the past.

Reviewer's Name: 
McKenzie W

Book Review: Of Mice and Men

Book Review: Of Mice and Men
Author: 
Steinbeck, John
Rating: 
1 star = Yuck!
Review: 

The short novel Of Mice and Men by well-regraded author John Steinbeck is heralded as a classic for a reason. The book tells the story of George and Lennie, two migrant workers trying to make a living farming in California during the 1930s Great Depression. George and Lennie are not related; they are friends who travel together to find work. Throughout the novel, they encounter new relationships and people on a new ranch. There is no denying that Steinbeck was an incredibly strong author, capable of painting a rich portrait of life in such a harrowing time of hardships; however, the sad and frankly unnecessary ending of this novel took away from my liking of it, in addition to the frank descriptions of mistreatment of people and animals, combined with the elongated plot contributed to the fact that this wasn’t a book I enjoyed. Readers need to be aware that this is a very difficult book to read, combined with mistreatment of a character with mental illness, women, and animals. Some may enjoy this novel because of the vivid descriptions and powerful characters, however, in my opinion, this book was horribly sad and not something I would not read again.

Reviewer's Name: 
Allie S

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