Humor

Book Review: Food: A Love Story

Author
Gaffigan. Jim
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

This was a light and hilarious read, though probably not a good choice if you are looking for something more informational. Jim Gaffigan is a great comedian, and the care he put into organizing this book about food is evident. It was nice that Gaffigan didn't take himself too seriously in each chapter. Since most autobiographies that mention food discuss more negative pressures of food culture, this book turned it around into a positive ode to food, a reminder to never feel bad about fueling your body with good food. Unexpectedly, it was also a reoccurring theme for Gaffigan to discuss the fear of not being a good enough parent and other anxieties about social norms that relate to food. Pick up this book if you are already a Jim Gaffigan fan or you just need a comforting book.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: John Dies at the End

Author
Wong, David
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

John Dies at the End is a story on two levels. On hand hand, it's a poignant exploration of the darkness of humanity, the fear of the unknown, the tragedies of life, and the devastating realities we exist besides everyday. But also, it's about two idiots on a space drug and their strangely resilient dog.
This book should be the blueprint for every dark comedy. It isn't a needlessly tragic story with a few laughs thrown in or a joke fest that undercuts every poignant moment. It blends comedy and tragedy seamlessly, balances it perfectly, and hits it for a home run with meticulous writing and characters. This is mostly done by finding the hilarity in tragedy, specifically the tragedy of life. This book is strangely and wonderfully existential for being mostly about shadows and movie monsters, a very classic demons of a character mirrored by demons of the world. The characters in general are stellar, with so many flaws and so much cynicism but with some shining nuggets of morality and love that makes them very easy to root for.
The entire thing is a joke that takes itself seriously in the best way possible. There are horrible moments of death and gore and dehumanization, and I would definitely look up some content warnings, but it's still such a fun ride. One minute there's gruesome character deaths and existential dread and body horror and such, the next minute one of the characters need to just kill the alien larvae quickly to get to work on time. Or their dog explodes and shows up like two days later and they don't care enough to investigate that. It's a rollercoaster of mood swings, but in a good way.
All in all, I don't know how to describe this book without using far too many words. Basically, despite some anticlimactic moments and weaker plot structure, this is a perfect dark comedy. I'd recommend this to any fans of horror, humor, existential dread, nihilistic humor, and well-written alien drugs!

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Eve

Book Review: Spy School

Author
Gibbs, Stuart
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Where many spy novels explore the skill and expertise on display with fully trained spies, Spy School takes it back to basics. Ben Ripley, a normal middle school student, is chosen by the CIA to attend an academy for spies. Ben may not be the best spy there - or even in the top 90% - but he might be the only person who can stop a plot against the whole school.
A great novel for young readers looking for action and comedy, Spy School is a great introduction to the spy genre. Complete with interesting characters (although not without some flat characters as well), the plot moves at a quick pace while still keeping its reader engaged and excited. Although it is the first novel in a series, it works well as a standalone. However, the series has tended to improve as it has continued, maturing with its readers, so I would say continuing to read the series is worth your while.
If you're looking for a thriller for young readers, Spy School is the book for you!

Reviewer's Name
Locke
Genres

Book Review: Today Tonight Tomorrow

Author
Solomon, Rachel Lynn
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

This book surprised me as far as good pacing and witty banter. It seemed like an average enemies-to-lovers book, which it is, but something about the characters' deep discussions and interests intrigued me. The main characters, Rowan and Neil, have been high school competitors for years to become the top of their class, never before stopping to consider that their passion to be the best hindered the discovery of similarities between them. Rowan and Neil had great chemistry and I could easily understand the pressures and concerns they had as newly-graduated high school seniors. Some reviews argued that the author tried to address too many issues in one book (misogyny, anti-Semitism, veganism, etc.), but my opinion is that there isn't a limit on how much you can advocate for equality in one book! Try this one out, it might surprise you.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name
Maggie
Awards

Book Review: It Sounded Better In My Head

Author
Kenwood, Nina
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

This book was real easy to read and for me to get interested in. It is a story about a girl who had real life problems. The book tells the story of her after she gets out of school and how she just keeps running into problems. Like her parents get divorced, I could relate to her on this because my parents got divorced when I was 7. I like reading about real life stuff because it makes me feel like I am not alone with my things. I hope that the author writes a sequel to this book.
-an almost 9th grader

Reviewer's Name
Sophia

Book Review: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Author
Blume, Judy
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

I read this book because my mom wouldn't stop talking about how she LOVED this book when she grew up. It was pretty funny. It is a book about.a kid in the fourth grade that has a little brother. And the little brother was just SO cute that everyone, not just his parents gave all of the attention to the brother. That part I can kinda understand. I have a little sister and for real babies usually get all of everyone's attention. It made him feel like a nothing. I liked the book because I could definitely relate to it, and it was pretty easy to read. I think it would probably be better for like middle school kids or younger to read. But it was good.

Reviewer's Name
Sophia

Book Review: Chomp

Author
Hiaasen, Carl
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

This is a book that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. I've read it every year since I was in elementary school, and it's a great story about kids standing up to nonsensical adults in a humorous yet adventurous way. Wahoo is an observant, level-headed character who contrasts with his father's personality well. I also love the girl Tuna because she is brave for everyone except herself, which is such an interesting character trope to follow. There's a great message of the negative impacts of media, such as reality television, and finding beauty in unconventional things. It is a quick read that will stick with you for a long time.

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Wrecking Ball

Author
Kinney, Jeff
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

The book, "Wrecking Ball," the main plot doesn't start immediately. First there are a couple of stories including a garage sale and a segment talking about how rich he would be when he grows up. When you finally get pass this entrance into the book, we can get to the beginning of the main plot. Greg Heffley and his family are initially devastated to find out that their Great Aunt Reba had died, but then they found out that she had left them a decent amount of money. This of course started to make them argue over what to do with it. Each suggested their own idea, but the mom's idea of expanding the kitchen won out despite unpopular response because she, quote on quote, was the only one who ever wrote Great Aunt Reba any Thank You cards. Nothing seemed like it could go wrong, the expansion began, and the family began to actually get excited about a bigger kitchen. But as you probably already know in these books, something goes wrong, but this time, everything goes wrong. Trash and concrete moving into the neighbors yard, toxins in the walls, and wasps getting into the house. The neighbors by this point were obviously not the agreeable type so when they found out that part of the extension was on one of the neighbors property, they had to take the extension down. The family hit down by this failure, decides that instead of improving the house, they're going to move to a new one in a new school district. Will this work out? Will Greg and Rowley stay friends? I guess you will just have to read.

I liked this book because it was a new story that didn't have any similarities to the previous books like some of the other stories have. I didn't dislike this book, but it was a fairly mediocre read for me and it didn't amaze me. I chose this book because I have been reading the series since I was young, and I enjoy getting the new book in the series when a new one comes out. I would recommend this book to anyone really who likes a good easy story to read before you fall asleep at night.

Reviewer's Name
Cooper

Book Review: Big Nate Strikes Again

Author
Peirce, Lincoln
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Nate Wright is back at it again when the unexpected strikes. Mrs. Godfrey gives a difficult assignment to research a great American. Not only this, but Nate is forcefully paired up with his archenemy and helpless teacher suck-up, Gina. She isn't exactly thrilled about it either as she is afraid that being partnered up with Nate will ruin her perfect GPA. They get assigned the topic of Ben Franklin, but Nate is more concerned with who became the captains for the Fleeceball teams. Fleeceball is a version of indoor baseball that their school plays for a season every year. Luck and disaster strike when Nate finds out he was made one of the captains, but unfortunately, so has Randy Betancourt the school bully. Nate gets in trouble, as usual, and inadvertently misses the captains meeting. Nate panics and rushes to tell the coach, but all seems good when Nate looks at his team. The coach picked all good players for him, except one, the absolute worst when it comes to athleticism, Gina. Will Nate be able to meet Gina's high expectations on their project, win the Fleeceball tournament, and deal with Randy all at the same time? I guess we will just have to see if Big Nate can, "Strike Again."

The reason I enjoyed this book so much was because Nate finally found an interest in something academic even if it is just one person from history. I guess this shows that he is not completely hopeless. I honestly didn't dislike any part of this book which I immensely enjoyed while reading it. The story stayed fresh and relevant, and it moved in a way that kept me reading. I picked this book just because I was at my cousin's house and needed something to read to fall asleep at night when I was younger, so I chose to read this, and I was hooked to the series ever since. This isn't one of the best books that I have read this year, but it does come fairly close.

Reviewer's Name
Cooper

Book Review: Big Nate: In a Class by Himself

Author
Peirce, Lincoln
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

Big Nate, or Nate Wright, is a boy who has to deal with an arrogant teacher suck-up Gina, his perfect sister Ellen, who, Nate says, adults are too short-sighted to see how annoying she is, and a number of teachers including the worst one of all, Mrs. Godfrey. She apparently fails to recognize that despite his lack of knowing anything about history, or really anything else academic, that he is destined for greatness in the future. Nate feels though that at the current stage in his life, 6th grade, he can't do much about people not realizing his greatness, especially when surrounded by misguided teachers, his clueless father, or his joking best friends Francis and Teddy. Luck strikes when Nate didn't eat breakfast and one of his best friends Teddy offers him a fortune cookie. Most of the time Nate wouldn't get anything worth thinking about, but this time is different because, "Today you will surpass all others." As soon as he gets this, He realizes that the only place that he will surpass all the others is at school because at home the only people he could surpass is his clueless dad and his annoying sister. Because of this, he tries every class out of the day to make it happen, causing him to land seven detentions throughout the day. Will Nate Wright be able to surpass all of the others, or will he be in detention, "In a class by himself."

I liked this book because Nate seems to not understand very much about what he should do in the world, so this means that he will inevitably make his own funny decisions. The only reason that I didn't like this book as much was because it was the first in the series and I just didn't feel like it was the best one out of them. I picked this book because I had already read some of the other books in the series, (I read them out of order,) and I decided that I probably should read the first one to see how the story began. This book surprised me because I had no idea what the "origin story" could possibly be for this kind of a character, but if I would have guessed, the story would have exceeded my expectations. I have read many books like this, this year so sadly I can't say that it is one of the best ones that I have read this year.

Reviewer's Name
Cooper