Historical

Book Review: Justin Morgan Had a Horse

Book Review: Justin Morgan had a Horse
Author: 
Tytle, Harry
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

My favorite character in the book was Little Bub because of his personality.
He was a very hard worker and he was brave. He stepped into a boat without hesitation. He worked all day pulling down trees. He was in pulling matches at night.

I liked this book because it had really good descriptions. The author wrote great descriptions like “You are as skinny as a fiddle string!” I also
liked the suspense. When we read about the races we didn’t want to stop.
My least favorite part was that the schoolmaster died. It made me sad because he was really nice. He was like a grandpa to Joel. He was loving because he took Joel on a trip.

Reviewer's Name: 
Seth

Book Review: The Alienist

The Alienist
Author: 
Carr, Caleb
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book is amazing. It spent weeks on the bestseller lists the year it was published, and is currently being turned into a television series. It takes place in 1896 and concerns fictional psychologist (or “alienist”) Dr. Laszlo Kreizler who works with his best friend John Moore, a crime reporter, to solve a series of brutal and perverted murders of New York City child prostitutes. They are joined by several other unconventional and intrepid characters who help them investigate the murders, eventually leading to an edge-of-your-seat climactic showdown worthy of any blockbuster thriller.
Our narrator, John Moore, is well-drawn and extremely likeable, providing insight into the personalities of more-difficult-to-access characters such as Laszlo as well as entertaining the reader with sarcastic asides and private commentary. His interactions with Laszlo are especially enjoyable – the two are polar opposites, yet have an enduring friendship that allows them to work together like Holmes and Watson. Dr. Laszlo Kreizler himself is dark, brooding, and intelligent, but moves beyond a stereotype and gains the reader’s sympathy, especially as his intriguing past – and relationships -- come to light. The other members of the team are generally likable as well, if rather underdeveloped. Their racial and religious political correctness seems somewhat manufactured considering the time period, but the strength of the plot and their own likability allows the reader to accept it as signs of the characters’ progressive viewpoints and accepting natures. Also, Theodore Roosevelt and other actual historical figures make cameos – it’s like a treat for history buffs.
Speaking of history, a main factor in the story is the concept of “psychological determinism,” a psychological theory that was new at the time but is now largely accepted, as well as forensic science, which was also mostly untested in 1896. The heroes in this story aren’t your typical Victorian detectives, using Holmesian deduction and raw logic to trace the killer. These investigators use psychology and forensics to catch a murderer who leaves no hard clues, making this mystery uncommonly scientific and engrossing. Additionally, the abundance of subplots -- romantic, criminal, historical, etc. -- create an atmospheric and fleshed-out world that serves its reader well.
I urge fans of psychological thrillers as well as traditional mysteries to read this book. However (as you may have guessed), the subject matter is dark, and there is more than one gory and detailed description of a dismembered body. Additionally, the nature of the investigation leads the investigators into some very unsavory locales. The imagery alone requires that I recommend this book for mature readers, probably ages 15 and up. If you don’t have a strong stomach, you may want to skip a few scenes. Otherwise, this is one mystery you won’t want to miss.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Caroline K.

Book Review: A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying
Author: 
Gaines, Ernest J.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Two characters. Grant and Jefferson. Playing the roles of God in Jesus in society, as saviors. Jefferson is on death row for killing a man. Grant is a man who would rather have nothing to do with the sinner, Jefferson. However, Grant is persuaded to help Jefferson. The two men develop a crazy relationship. Grant’s job is to help Jefferson find his humanity again, after Jefferson’s astonishing defense in trial that compared him to a swine who wouldn’t know better than to kill a man, for he is just that dumb. This book teaches so many lessons, but most important how to be a hero for others. Read this book for nothing else than to get to Jefferson’s tragic journal in the end, where you should be prepared with tears and tissues, for your heart will break for these characters.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Madison H.

Book Review: One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer
Author: 
Williams-Garcia, Rita
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I honestly don’t have the words to describe how much I loved this book. It has won four national book awards and has left its mark on my heart. I really enjoyed how this book gave a new aspect on the life of other people in our world. This is a story that readers will look back on for years to come. The changes that these three girls go through are remarkable and their love for each other is touching. A phenomenal piece of work that will stick with children, teens, and anyone who appreciates a good story.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Gerilyn M.

Book Review: Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness
Author: 
Conrad, Joseph
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Actual Rating: 2.5
Heart of Darkness is a classic book by Joseph Conrad that is deep, heavy, and somewhat disturbing. I probably would have given this book more stars if it were not for the immense amounts of dialogue and a maddeningly complex storyline. I did find what the book was actually about interesting, however, trying to follow along with what was happening with all the detailing and talking practically made my brain come out my ears. So, in spite of the complexity, I will sum it up as best as I can. Here’s basically what happens: The book begins with the narrator (presumably an unnamed sailor), along with several others, listening to a man named Marlow tell a story on board the Nellie, a sailing vessel. Marlow tells them a story about when he was a young man working a job as an ivory transporter on the Congo. Through an ivory trading expedition, he develops an interest in a man named Kurtz, who seems to have a godlike power over the natives. Through talking to several others, he discovers three main things about the mysterious Kurtz: that he is in poor health, that he has tons of ivory, and, according to one source, that he may be trying to steal the manager’s job. Marlow and some of Kurtz’s acquaintances then take a boat to bring relief to the man, but are attacked by the natives. They later learn that the natives attacked them because they were worried that Kurtz would be taken away from them. I will not give away any more as it may ruin the story, but it is a somewhat tragic one. I would recommend this book to people who like books that are deep and thought provoking, and can comprehend complex plots and conversations.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Jacob U.

Book Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity
Author: 
Wein, Elizabeth
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book is about Verity, a spy imprisoned by the Nazis during WWII who agrees to write everything she knows down for them, just to buy time. I found the format very interesting in this book. Although it was slow and seemingly pointless at the beginning, the little details all come together in the end to complete the story. Even though the ending may appear predictable, it is pulled off in a surprising way. I liked the characters in this book; most of their personalities were well developed and there were some plot twists about them revealed later in the book.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Camille A.

Book Review: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel
Author: 
Clare, Cassandra
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, is a pretty interesting novel. There are a lot of different scenarios taking place for the main character named Tessa, who is also trying to find out who she really is along with finding her brother, Nate. A majority of the book is taking place at the institute, which is a place where not so normal people are taken to. This book has many different fantasy-like aspects from demons, shadow hunters, downworlders, vampires, etc. I thought it was a pretty good book and super fun to read, though it's somewhat long for some.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Dominique R.

Book Review: The Paris Wife

Book Review: The Paris Wife
Author: 
McLain, Paula
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I loved this book. I felt like I was right there in post-WWI Paris amongst the Lost Generation and the great writers of that time. Having studied literature in college, I appreciated the insight into the mysterious personalities of Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. I also liked the way the author portrayed the Fitzgeralds. While this is a work of historical fiction, it was based off of detailed research and correspondences of that time. I've never been a fan of Hemingway's works, and honestly I'm still not a fan, but Hadley was fascinating. It's telling that his second wife is just a flash in the pan, while Hadley is regarded as his great love. I've got A Moveable Feast on my list to read now

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner
Author: 
Ellis, Deborah
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Breadwinner is an excellent story about a young girl named Parvana and her family living in the Afghanistan that was under rule of the Taliban, an extreme religious group, from 1996 to 2001. Parvana and her sisters and brother and mother and father used to live in a giant house before it got bombed and they had to move to war torn Kabul. They scraped by for a long time by living in a one room house and her father selling some of their old things and reading and writing for others (most people there can’t read or write) with Parvana’s help in the marketplace. When her father is kidnapped by the Taliban soldiers because he went to England for his education and supposedly has “foreign ideas”, the family has no one to work for money, as the Taliban forbid women to leave the house without a man. Their solution- cut Parvana’s hair and dress her in her dead older brother’s clothes so she can go out and work for money. The book goes on to describe her many adventures working in the marketplace and doing strange odd jobs such as digging up human bones and trying to sell cigarettes and gum at what she thinks is a soccer game but is really a gruesome event. I would definitely recommend this book to people who are interested in world conflict and fiction based on relatively recent events. Overall, a really good story.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Jacob U.

Book Review: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Author: 
Avi
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I honestly was not expecting this to be as good of a book as it was. I guess I was thinking it would be more like Treasure Island (which I didn’t like too much). It actually turned out to be a really good story about a twelve year old girl named Charlotte Doyle who has booked a voyage with two other families on the Seahawk ship to return home from her school in England to see her family. Charlotte then discovers that the two other families have mysteriously cancelled their trip, making her the only girl on the ship. She then has many adventures on the Seahawk with the shipmates and the cruel Captain Jaggery involving a silver dirk, storms at sea, muskets, round robins, watery coffee… and possibly murder. I highly recommend this book to anybody who likes historical fiction, books told in diary form, books about seafaring, or is just looking for a good book to read.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Jacob U.

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