Historical

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: The Gilded Wolves

The Gilded Wolves
Author: 
Chokshi, Roshani
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Gilded Wolves is an excellent adventure-mystery novel set in an alternate Paris that details the adventures of a team of misfits as they perform heists in an attempt to reclaim things they had lost. Each character is represented in the book with chapters from their perspective. This format allows for the reader to engage with the many different characters on a personal level by reading their personal thoughts and getting the details of their past that isn’t expressed in other parts of the book. The storyline of this novel is very interesting and keeps you hooked with the mystery and suspense. This novel is incredibly enjoyable and I would highly suggest it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K

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: City of Thieves

City of Thieves
Author: 
Benioff, David
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Could not put this book down. The story kept me guessing about what might happen next, but the two main characters were brought to life by the author's ever-present humor of humans in tough situations. One of the best books I've ever read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Karen P.

Book Review: Les Misérables

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

Jean Valjean has been in prison for 19 years. On the day he is freed, he walks to the city of Digne, which is over thirty miles away. Exhausted, he searches for food and shelter, but is rejected at each place he goes to because he was a former convict. Finally he is told to ask the Bishop of Digne for help. The Bishop agrees without hesitation. Valjean wakes up early in the morning and steals the Bishop's silverware. He is caught and brought back to the Bishop, but the Bishop saves Valjean from returning to prison by pretending that the silverware was actually a gift. He even gives Valjean silver candlesticks as well. The Bishop convinces Valjean to turn around his life.

Exceptionally strong character development was a highlight for me. Some themes in this classic are sacrifice for others and unexpected generosity; for example, Valjean has an opportunity to shoot his worst enemy, but instead decides to free him. The plot also weaves the connections between characters magnificently. This book has made me experience emotions more strongly than any other book I've read.

Les Miserables is a relatively long novel; Victor Hugo (the author) is willing to become verbose frequently. I actually enjoyed its details, which made me more immersed in the story. If you don't usually read books with philosophy, it may take a little getting used to. Even if you have already watched the play, the book is still worth considering; there is plenty of extra material in the book that the play skips.

Reviewer's Name: 
Byron S.

Book Review: Red Prophet

Red Prophet
Author: 
Card, Orson Scott
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Continuing from the previous book in the Alvin Maker series, Red Prophet flashes back and shows certain events from a different point of view before driving forward into some fascinating alternate history. I continue to enjoy the fantastical elements brought into American history, even to the point of explaining how certain famous historical figures were the way they were. Although, if you know enough history, you’ll realize the fates of some of the characters presented in Red Prophet (William Henry Harrison, for instance) might not need the foreshadowing missing from this text.

While Seventh Son managed to set up this alternate history and establish some of its rules, Red Prophet delves into the action and excitement that comes from some of the more “kinetic” talents of these characters. Once the plot catches up with where Seventh Son left off, I was hooked. The interactions between Alvin and the Native Americans were quite interesting, and I found everything up until the climactic battle to be top-notch storytelling. Sure, it took a little while to get there, having to first set up the eponymous “Red Prophet” and his powers of observation, but it was worth it in the end.

My one qualm with this book lies in some of its more peculiar metaphor, allegory, and allusion. Near the end of the book, several scenes and sections feel entirely disjointed from the narrative. Perhaps they were to serve some “higher purpose” to lay out the moral of the story—or even the series as a whole. These scenes had characters who suddenly were ripped out of their normal behavior and put into a completely different context. And for what? To show that the history of the Native Americans is rich and varied while also infused with war and darkness? There had to be some other way to convey this than the way it was done here.

An action-packed follow-on to Seventh Son that gets a little too “heady” at times, I give Red Prophet 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Seventh Son

Seventh Son
Author: 
Card, Orson Scott
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Having loved Orson Scott Card's Ender Saga, I decided to start into another of his series, Tales of Alvin Maker. I was used to his science fiction writing, so I thought it would be interesting to see how he handled semi-historical fiction. For the first book in a series, Seventh Son certainly has its strengths and weaknesses. It’s clear this book came on the heels of the Ender Saga, as there are a lot of parallels between characters and motifs that I just couldn’t ignore. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing by any means.

While the history of colonial America is the setting of Seventh Son, the fantasy elements added to it made for an interesting read. I did appreciate the distinctive “good vs. evil” conflict between the Makers and the Unmaker, even if it’s a little too tried and true. At the very least, while the religious characters had some amount of strawman characterization set against them, they were well rounded enough not to make the whole story seem too anti-Christian. They weren’t necessarily the enemies, but their ignorance factored into the enemy’s tactics.

Perhaps the little snippets of American history sprinkled throughout this book were what intrigued me the most. Sure, the superstition and “magic” involved in creating an alternate timeline of history made quite a bit of sense. However, without at least a cursory knowledge of these events and historical figures, then readers could potentially miss a lot of substance. As with the Ender Saga, Card uses his writing to dive into different theologies and philosophies that do more than merely entertain. The fact that books like this can be thought-provoking through solid characters is a testament to his talent as a writer.

An adequate start to a series with plenty of potential, I give Seventh Son 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

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