Historical

Book Review: The Far Side of the World

The Far Side of the World
Author: 
O'Brian, Patrick
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Nautical historical fiction is a rare genre for me to read. The last one I read—and that most people would be able to recognize—was Moby-Dick , and that was probably 15 years ago. Needless to say, I found myself in brief possession of The Far Side of the World and decided to give it a read. Of course, this was mostly because of the movie of the same name released in 2003 that earned many Oscar nominations (only winning in two). While the plot of both is slightly different in a few key areas, I wasn’t disappointed with having read this book.

First, as a historical look into the realms of sailing and whaling at the time, The Far Side of the World does a fantastic job of informing and educating the reader without necessarily resorting to huge exposition dumps. Sure, a few moments were a little obvious that the author was trying to get information across as quickly as possible, but these were rare. Secondly, this book seemed to include an exhaustive amount of problems that you’d encounter when sailing the seas. This meant that each page of each chapter had something the crew was trying to overcome, even if this seemed like a distraction at most times.

While the main thrust and driver of the plot of The Far Side of the World was clear from the start, my one qualm with this book was its inability to transition from one thought to the next. It sure had a steady pace, like a ship cutting through calm waters. Sometimes, though, the different topics would come in a choppy way that made me double back and re-read a page to make sure I didn’t miss some crucial transition (which were rarely there). Perhaps this adds to the realism of the “things happen without expecting them” element of sailing. Far too often, I found myself trying to figure out why this minor sub-plot mattered before it changed to something else entirely.

A thorough and steady-paced nautical historical fiction, I give The Far Side of the World 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Outrun the Moon

Outrun the Moon
Author: 
Lee, Stacey
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I tore through this book. Mercy is strong and inspirational, but also displays characteristics not normally seen in fictional characters. All of the girls seem ahead of their time and are well-rounded and friendly. Mercy does not have everything handed to her on a silver platter, and she must work for what she wants. This book is realistic, fits the time period, and is very interesting.

Reviewer's Name: 
Brenna D.

Book Review: Suite Francaise

Suite Francaise
Author: 
Nemirovsky, Irene
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Suite Francaise is an interesting book detailing the experiences of multiple characters and what they face as they evacuate Paris and deal with the German occupation of France. I read this book for school but still found it very interesting. It was a bit slow at first with exposition of characters in almost every chapter. I did enjoy getting to see how different classes reacted to having to leave their homes and what they faced afterwards. Not only does Nemirovsky use multiple characters to show the difference in experience, but also her use of imagery and figurative language add to the essence of struggle. Overall, I enjoyed this book but wouldn't have chosen it myself.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K.

Book Review: A Woman Is No Man

A Woman Is No Man
Author: 
Rum, Etaf
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Definitely among my favorite books of the year. Beautifully written in alternating points of view, each woman's story is absolutely compelling, enraging, and heartbreaking. There was a passage toward the end of the novel where I found I actually was holding my breath.

This is the type of book that makes you understand the power of words and stories and how important they are, on so many levels - from Isra reading to escape her suffocating life, to Deya for whom books mean freedom and education and choice, to the reader who is ultimately changed by the experience of their story.

This book is going to stay with me for quite a while - definitely an author to keep on my radar!!!

Reviewer's Name: 
Krista

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

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

To Kill a Mockingbird is a well thought out, very deep and well executed book. Although it contains some very strong language, I'd say this is a must read for any teenager. Set during the time of the depression, this book deals with many political issues such as racism while also managing to teach very important lessons along the way. The complicated sentence structure in the book, as well as the vocabulary serve to make it a very fun and chalenging read. In my opinion this book is truly one of the best written in history.

Reviewer's Name: 
Rohan G.

Book Review: The Girl From Everywhere

The Girl From Everywhere
Author: 
Heilig, Heidi
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

In "The Girl From Everywhere," sixteen-year-old Nix and her father lead a crew of time travelers abroad their ship, the Temptation, in a quest to find a way to save Nix's late mother. I really enjoyed this book -- I was hooked from page one. I think what really pulls you in is the complexity of the time travel -- in this story, they use maps of places during specific time periods to reach where they want to go. It's such an interesting concept that I hadn't seen before this story. I also really liked the crew -- they were all very diverse with interesting backgrounds and personalities. If I had one complaint, it's that Nix's love interest, Kashmir, is sort of your typical YA love interest -- suave, charming, sometimes abrasive, a little arrogant. Maybe it's just because this is a really common archetype in YA, but I found his character a little irritating. Nevertheless, this is an incredible story that is definitely worth checking it.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Gillian P.

Book Review: The Tombs

The Tombs
Author: 
Schaumberg, Deborah
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

The Tombs is a story told from the perspective of Avery Kohl a girl in New York 1882. I found this book was a very enjoyable read. It had a very interesting air of mystery. I also loved the feeling of being unsure about what she would do next. I first noticed this book by its cover and then I read the summary on the back and found it to be very interesting. I would definitely recommend this book to others looking for a interesting read. I would recommend this book for ages 13-15.

Reviewer Grade:9

Reviewer's Name: 
Rob A.

Book Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
Author: 
Zusak, Markus
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Book Thief is a very well known book/movie and for good reason.
This story follows a young girl living in Nazi Germany who deals with her family hiding a Jewish man, the book burning's, and her own insatiable love for reading. The Book Thief gives an interesting perspective of World War II that we don't often see in historical novels with a story about a blind follower of the Nazi Regime but who also sympathizes with Jewish people. I really enjoyed this book as someone who loves WWII history and personal stories. I highly suggest this book to any reader, I think it is a very important story to read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K.

Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

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

This book is an examination of racial tensions and living as someone who defies the social norms to do greater good. It follows a small family that consists of a father and his two children. The father, a lawyer, becomes the first white man in his time and area to defend a black man in court, alienating himself and his family from the rest of their society (because he did what was practically unspeakable in the town's eyes). A fascinating series of events ensue, in which the children grow up learning what it feels like to feel prejudice and can thus empathize with the struggle that colored people around them face. The father must sacrifice his social standing and endure hatred and threats because he chooses to defend the truth, rather than the race. All in all, I would recommend this book not only for its complex and very interesting plot, but also for its analysis of racism and human nature in regards to the greater good and a sense of humanity. Themes of empathy and sacrifice then escalate the plot to its famous and unexpected finale. It is worth the read even only for the father's speech in court towards the end of the book, where he makes his case in favor of a colored man. I would give this book five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: 
Molly Q

Book Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
Author: 
Zusak, Markus
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book follows a young girl living in Nazi Germany, whose family harbors a Jew hiding out from the secret police. Facing prison time, shame, or even loss of life, the girl and her family must be immensely careful to remain neutral and non-proactive. Any anti-Nazi actions, which were quite subjective and meaningless actions, sometimes, could be used against people.

Not to mention, people were being oppressed based on physical appearance and mannerisms, alone. The Jewish man, though, educates the young girl and becomes her best friend. When he chooses to leave their family, due to not wanting to put them in danger and also being in increasing danger himself, the girl faces loss she has never known before. The plot escalates until Germany is liberated by the Allied powers, and the girl grows up to tell warning tales of Nazi-like power regimes and social inequality. This book is fantastic, especially because it has recurring themes of morality, power struggles, humanity, and love or sacrifice. The plot is fascinating with many historical attributes and the characters are so well depicted that the book reads like an old story. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a deep thought kind of books but also something with an entrancing story and an amazing writing style. I only give it four out of five stars because I personally struggle with conflict areas of war in books and more intense or dark themes. Otherwise, fantastic read!

Reviewer's Name: 
Molly Q

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