Nonfiction

Book Review: Girl, Wash Your Face

Girl, Wash Your Face
Author: 
Hollis, Rachel
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

This book wasn't bad. I finished it. I even got two takeaways: Don't compare yourself to others, and don't worry about weight so much as being in shape (paraphrased). However, I did not agree with her assessment of people using prescribed drugs for anxiety, depression, and sleep as being unnecessary. She said it twice in the book. Also, she holds herself up as the standard to which we should all aspire, not on purpose, it was just a side effect of the book. It was okay for a rah rah book, but I wouldn't recommend it to my friends.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop

The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop
Author: 
Weatherford, Carole Boston
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

So glad this book was added to the PPLD collection! The illustrations are incredible. The glossary is amazing! Must read!!!

Reviewer's Name: 
Aisha

Book Review: The First Conspiracy

The First Conspiracy
Author: 
Meltzer, Brad
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

If you think you knew everything about the American Revolution, then this novel will prove you wrong. Taking place in the most critical era in America's history, this novel details a very unknown story about George Washington. The story follows him and his group of Life Guards, soldiers tasked with protecting Washington's life, as a conspiracy rages around them.
And unbeknownst to Washington, his Life Guards are now tasked by the British with killing the future president. The novel poses a very thought-provoking "What if?" question that provides for a very intense and hard to put down historical non-fiction novel. The novel provides insight into not only this virtually unknown story, but also shows the reader how close the US was to losing the Revolution. This novel is one of the best historical non-fiction books I have read. I would highly recommend to history buffs, fans of non-fiction, or anyone looking for a good read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Peter C

Book Review: Storyworld First

Storyworld First
Author: 
Williamson, Jill
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

"Storyworld First" is an amazing writing book that covers everything a fantasy writer needs to create a spectacular world in their novels. This in-depth book is great for crafting three-dimensional settings, characters, and themes that will leave a lasting impression on readers. I highly recommend this book just for the enormous amount of detail alone -- you can literally create your novel's world from the ground up with this book (climate, language, religion, population, etc.) Not to mention, the author Jill Williamson is apart of Go Teen Writers, a website dedicated to helping teen writers improve their work -- this book is like the best of their website wrapped into one package! If you are a writer (even if you don't write fantasy or sci-fi), I highly recommend you pick up this book. It will change your writing forever.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Gillian P.
Genres: 

Book Review: Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio
Author: 
Kehret, Peg
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

"Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio" by Peg Kehret is an interesting autobiography that gives insight to what people with Polio experienced. The main character, Peg, faints one day during school and has a high temperature so she is taken to the hospital. There she is diagnosed with Polio. This news is devastating to Peg and her family but Peg's family decides to stay positive while Peg is sad. Throughout her journey Peg gets better with the support of her parents.

I would recommend this book. "Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio" is sad but also heartwarming at times. I read this book because it is a battle book. I couldn't relate to any of the characters, however the emotions Peg felt could be related to a lot of other people. The book isn't predictable at all. It is not the best book I have read this year but I would still recommend this book as it is still good.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-1945, and the American Cover-up

Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-1945, and the American Cover-up
Author: 
Harris, Sheldon
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

This book is for the historian who wants to know more about what happened in the world in the 1930-1940's. We all know about WWII. Most of know about the Nazi Concentration camps. A few know of the human experiments done by the Nazi's. But did you know that Japan was doing human experimentation as well? Did anyone know that Imperial Japan was active in Bacteriological and Chemical Warfare? This is an in depth look at the people behind the atrocities and those behind the cover-up. The author even talks a little about why we know little about Japanese human experimentation and a lot about Nazi Concentration camps.

I found this book enlightening and thorough. My overall view of the world during this time period is filling out and becoming more complete.

Reviewer's Name: 
Rachel

Book Review: Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon

Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon
Author: 
Slade, Suzanne
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

In the book, Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon, Suzanne Slade and Thomas Gonzalez have created a gorgeous non-fiction book about Project Apollo and all the people who made the moon landing possible. Lush illustrations combine with informative free verse in this book for children age 10 - 14. There are photos, a selected bibliography, and website list in the back of the book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Barbara

Book Review: The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
Author: 
Lukeman, Noah
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

As a writer who is looking to submit to agents soon, I was hoping The First Five Pages would give me some insight into the hook that could lead to the acceptance of my book. Additionally, as an individual who also creates and publishes short story anthologies, I hoped this book would give some useful advice for writers to keep their stories out of the rejection pile. Unfortunately, while this book is almost 20 years old, much has changed since its initial publication. Everyone has computers. Word processors and other tools are in abundance. Nobody prints out manuscripts anymore.

Split into three sections and a total of 19 topics, this book doesn’t so much tell an author how to avoid rejection from agents and publishers as much as how to write. I will say from personal experience that the one topic on formatting is the most important topic to pay attention to, especially since
I’ve rejected tons of submissions that don’t follow the guidelines—albeit for additional reasons besides the formatting ignorance. There might be some tidbits in this book that will help an author create a manuscript worth accepting, but they’re buried in so much basic advice that most beginning authors will probably miss them.

This is the crux of the problem with this book: it’s not meant for authors who are ready to submit. There’s no nuance in the examples contained in this book, which doesn’t help anything when the topics are so rudimentary as to make me wonder why anyone who still has these problems with their manuscript is submitting to agents and publishers in the first place. If these writers hadn’t already heard the advice to “show, don’t tell,” then there’s no way they’re far enough in their writing career to be able to create a submittable manuscript.

Basic writing advice for authors who probably aren’t ready to submit to agents or publishers anyway, I give The First Five Pages 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.
Genres: 

Book Review: Killing the SS

Killing the SS
Author: 
O'Reilly, Bill, Dugard, Martin
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard are known for writing some fantastic historical novels, and Killing the SS upholds that idea. It is the latest installment in O'Reilly and Dugard's Killing series. This novel tells the story of the global postwar hunt for Nazi war criminals and how they were brought to justice, or how they escaped altogether. The big four written about were Josef Mengele, known as the Angel of Death, who was the physician at Auschwitz and performed horrific medical experiments on the prisoners; Adolf Eichmann, charged with managing the mass deportation of millions of Jews to death camps; Martin Bormann, who was in charge of legislation and domestic matters regarding Nazi Germany; and Klaus Barbie, who was known as the Butcher of Lyon due to the fact that he personally tortured and killed thousands of Gestapo prisoners in Lyon, France. The book itself is a fantastic read, as it is suspenseful, engaging, and is the history buff's dream. I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves history, or anyone who is a fan of the Killing series.

Reviewer's Name: 
Peter C

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