Biography/Memoir

Book Review: The Sun Does Shine

Book Review: The Sun Does Shine
Author: 
Hinton, Anthony Ray
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Wow. I didn't think there is still rampant racism in America but boy was I proven wrong. In 1985, Ray Hinton was unjustly incarcerated in Alabama and will held in Death Row for 30 years. The prosecutor, police, jury, and judge were all white and despite his clear alibi he was found guilty. The police officer who arrested him said he believed Hinton was innocent but was still going to arrest him because if it's not him, it's someone 'like him.'
Throughout his heinous unjust incarceration on death row, Hinton never lost hope that he would be exonerated. His spirit helped the most hardened criminals shoulder their last days.
Eventually Hinton was exonerated, but not before the prime of his life had been stolen from him. He dedicates his life now to abolishing the death penalty, calling it a broken system. According to statistics, 1 in 10 inmates on death row are innocent.
This is a powerful memoir about survival, hope, and resilience. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: The Slave Across the Street

Book Review: The Slave Across the Street
Author: 
Flores, Theresa L.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

This is a highly disturbing but about a teenager that gets caught up in a sex slave ring in the Detroit suburbs. It's a very graphic depiction about the trauma she endured for 2 years, trying to protect her family. It's hard to imagine that this could happen in the American suburbs, but it does. Leaning heavily on her faith, she overcame the trauma and terrifying memories, and starts working to help other girls like her.

Not expertly written and too preachy for my taste, I was riveted and disgusted by the graphic scenes of her repeated torture. It made me angry that her parents didn't notice something was wrong, and that teachers and security officers at her school who saw what was happening didn't do anything because they were afraid of her captors. Overall, a good but highly disturbing read.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State

The Last Girl book jacket
Author: 
Murad, Nadia
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Wow. Just wow. Nadia takes us through the miasma of Iraq sects and their competing values. She also talks about the Iraq war and the birth of ISIS from the rubble of the American occupation. However, in the most intimate way, she tells us about her sect, the Yazidis and their religion, persecution, and relationship with the Islamic State. And it's here that the real story begins.

In August of 2014, Nadia's village was occupied by ISIS, ending in the genocide of her people. She and other girls we sold into slavery and were considered less than human to their captors. Nadia pulls no punches about what she endured. It's brutal. In a series of fortunate events, Nadia embarks on a dangerous escape.

Told with honesty and forthrightness, this book kept me on the edge of my seat. I was highly disturbed by the sex slave recollections, which was her intention, and fascinated by her explanation of the regions, sects, and politics of Iraq, something I knew very little about. Despite the intense subject matter, I highly recommend this book. It was fantastic.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: Tuesdays with Morrie

Tuesdays with Morrie book cover
Author: 
Albom, Mitch
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Tuesdays with Morrie is the most moving and sentimental novel I have ever read. The first person narrative told by the author Mitch Albom, walks through Albom’s life changing journey with his old college professor, Morrie. Albom spends a series of Tuesdays learning from Morrie, who had been diagnosed with ALS and has a very limited time to live. In this true story Morrie Schwartz speaks valuable truth and offers insight into what is important in life and why he wasn’t scared to die. My favorite quote from the novel is “Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” Tuesdays with Morrie teaches all its readers how important everyday truly is, and how to not take life for granted.

Reviewer Grade:12

Reviewer's Name: 
Madison S
Awards: 

Book Review: Becoming

Becoming
Author: 
Obama, Michelle
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Fantastic memoir about the life and times of Michelle Obama, from her early upbringing in South Side Chicago to her time as First Lady. I loved the descriptive quality of her experiences and was amused by the meeting and falling in love with Barack. The anecdotes of life in the White House were particularly interesting. I would recommend listening to this book instead of reading it, if possible, as she is the narrator.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: Ten Women Who Changed Science and the World

Ten Women who changed Science and the World
Author: 
Whitlock, Catherine Evans, Rhodri
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In her book, "10 Women Who Changed Science and the World", Catherine Whitlock authors the biography of ten women who were deeply influential in science. For each woman, she writes a biography of their life and what significant contribution they made to their field. This book is well-written and informative, and neither too long nor too short for each woman's biography. I would recommend this book for readers of ages 13 and up. This book should interest those interested in women's contributions to science.

Reviewer's Name: 
Rebecca D

Book Review: Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air
Author: 
Krakauer, Jon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Into Thin Air is a narrative story of the author and climber, Jon Krakauer.
He establishes that ever since he was a kid, climbing Mt. Everest was his dream. He later accomplishes his ambition down the line, but with more consequences than anything rewarding.

Into Thin Air uses a consistent tone of language to identify whether the situation represents relief or tension. This gathers more intensity for those who are interested in thrillers and adventurous stories. The narrative offers a variety of twists and turns throughout the plot in order to continue the use of curiosity and unpredictability of the end. The story is very interesting, and builds upon every single detail, from the start until the end of the book.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Becoming

Becoming
Author: 
Obama, Michelle
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book is compelling and Michelle is a very interesting read. It's refreshingly honest and shows their true struggles. And I can relate to how she feels about politics. Michelle is grounded and illuminating giving the book a lot of value.

Reviewer's Name: 
Cheryl T.

Book Review: My Journey to the Stars

My Journey to the Stars
Author: 
Kelly, Scott
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

This Biography Reader tells us the story of Scott Kelly, one of the two brothers that have flown in space for NASA. He tells stories of growing up and how problems and experiences in his youth prepared him for his travels into space. He tells us about his year at the International Space Station including how he lived and the work he did. Be prepared to be inspired to reach for your own dreams!

Reviewer's Name: 
Carol

Book Review: BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman
Author: 
Stallworth, Ron
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

As someone who lives in Colorado Springs and calls this town my home, I was intrigued by Ron Stalworth's story after watching the 2018 Spike Lee movie based on the undercover investigation into the local Ku Klux Klan. Sure, I didn’t live in the Springs during the period covered in this book, but I did have enough understanding of the town to know the locations referenced throughout. To think that I live close to some of the areas that could have been affected by cross burnings or other Klan events is a little eerie to me, mostly because it’s something I rarely think about.

For those who have seen the movie first, this book covers everything that made it to the big screen but also adds some details about other events not directly linked to the Klan (but were still relevant to the discussion of race in the area). I’ll admit that Colorado Springs is pretty white when it comes right down to it. However, there’s still plenty of diversity in this town due to the large military population that occupies Colorado Springs’ five military installations. I know some residents were offended that such a story about the Springs could exist, but the book puts quite a bit of it into perspective (the Klan only had a few dozen people in town).

Admittedly, this book was more of an eye-opener to how the Klan evolved from the violent organization from the reconstruction era of the Civil War to the "political” party that it is today. Sure, they are trying to make the focus more on racial segregation than straight-up genocide like they used to endorse, but it really comes down to old thinking in a new world. It’s like mixing different colors of Play-do: once they’re mixed together, they aren’t going to separate back out to the individual colors.

An eye-opening look into the evolution of the Klan, I give BlacKkKlansman 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

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