Contemporary

Book Review: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Author: 
Lewycka, Marina
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

A short history of tractors in Ukrainian is a very entertaining tale of the vastly different experiences and perspectives of Ukrainian immigrants post-WWII to post-Cold War in Great Britain. It's a story that also explores the challenges of caring for aging family members. Well worth the read - it'll completely broaden your horizons. Also, it's very funny.

Reviewer's Name: 
Krista

Book Review: The Future of Us

Book Review: The Future of Us
Author: 
Asher, Jay & Mackler, Caroline
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

The Future of Us follows Josh and Emma, two teens in the year 1996, who log in to Emma's computer, and are automatically logged in to an unfamiliar site called Facebook. Throughout the story, they work to alter their future, seeing it change every time they login to Facebook. At first, they are estranged friends, but we see them grow closer the more they encounter. This book, while it has an interesting premise, was not particularly fun to read. It was not particularly immersive, and the events just seemed to happen, not really dragging the reader into the story the way I prefer. Recommended for ages 12+

Reviewer's Name: 
Settare R

Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Author: 
Semple, Maria
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Written creatively through letters, emails, and memos to and from characters, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is the story of a woman struggling with her past. Bernadette Fox is a former architect whose claim to fame was also her downfall. Now vanished from the architecture world, she lives in Seattle with her successful husband and tenacious daughter, Bee, and does all she can to avoid social interaction. While Bernadette is preparing for the family trip to Antarctica that Bee has been anxiously awaiting, a confrontation with another parent sends her spiraling out of control, resulting in Bernadette’s sudden disappearance. This book explores the difficulties of mental illness and how our actions affect one another, told through many different perspectives. Bernadette’s opinionated personality will have readers laughing, and her insights are truly relatable. A rollercoaster ride of emotions, this novel is beautifully and creatively written to portray a woman’s imperfections and a daughter’s determination to find her mother. Teen and adult readers alike will connect with Semple’s characters and appreciate her sense of humor in Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa H.

Book Review: 365 Days of Wonder

365 Days of Wonder
Author: 
Palacio, R.J.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

After reading the critically-acclaimed book WONDER by R.J. Palacio, a family member bought me this book for Christmas. It technically has no plot but instead gives you a positive quote for every day of the year. Each quote and the book included is displayed creatively and colorfully to really amp you up all day every day. This book is called "Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts"
so, at the end of each month, there is a short story told by Mr. Browne teaching the audience lessons. I would recommend this book to any age group, if you're into life-lessons and positive quotes, then surely you should barrow this book (or buy it for year-round use). Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaime P

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain book jacket
Author: 
Stein, Garth
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Garth Steins creates a beautiful image of the friendship between a man and his dog in The Art of Racing in the Rain. The narrative follows a dog named Enzo and his owner, Denny Swift, as they navigate the ups and downs of life.
The story is told from Enzo’s point of view as Denny leads his life as a professional race car driver.
I didn’t really enjoy this book. Enzo’s character felt a little bit forced and annoying. The writing style is somewhat similar to John Green’s in that it has this “fake deep” tone. I also thought the book was too depressing. Most of the time I like reading sad books, but with this one, it felt like there was always one bad thing after another. I probably wasn’t in the right mood to read this book, but I still wouldn’t recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere
Author: 
Ng, Celeste
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng poetically depicts the social intricacies and injustices of American suburban life. The narrative follows Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl as they move to a new town called Shaker Heights. The two become involved with the Richardson family, and Mia clashes with the head of the household, Elena. Meanwhile, a scandal arises when there is a dispute over the adoption of a Chinese-American baby.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing style was perfect for the story, and it reeled me in every time I picked up the book. This style also added to its provocative depictions of social injustices. I adored how Ng wrote both sides of the debate (about the adoption) equally, letting the readers decide who to side with. She didn’t dehumanize any of the characters. My only problem with the book was Pearl’s arc. There was a lot of focus on her character, and I personally thought she was a little bit boring. Her storyline was very predictable and flat. Besides that, it was a great book that was simultaneously lyrical and thought provoking. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L

Book Review: Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart book jacket
Author: 
Lippincott, Rachel
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

A story of a chronic illness, and the five feet that separates two people from life or love.

Stella has cystic fibrosis, which is an illness that causes buildup of mucus in the lungs. Most patients, if they never received a transplant, drown from the mucus itself. However, Stella has hope; but as that hope seems to be dwindling down, she meets a boy by chance, Will, who shows her how beautiful life really can be. No longer is her mind filled with death, but it’s filled with pure love and happiness. But here’s the catch, Will had cystic fibrosis as well, and his is incurable. “Five Feet Apart,” leads us through an enchanting love story of two teens who can never touch, never feel, never hug each other. They love in ways you can’t explain, and even though they know their love is short-lived, they stay together, through every breathable moment.
(Reviewer Grade 9)

Reviewer's Name: 
Hanna S

Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine book jacket
Author: 
Honeyman, Gail
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

A story of wildly eccentric Eleanor and her battle with discovering her worth.
Eleanor Oliphant lives a normal, planned out life. Vodka and pizza on weekends and work throughout the week. An ordinary job, nothing special.
Ordinary co-workers, sometimes rude and harsh, but normal nonetheless. All seems well until Eleanor sees the love of her life. Johnnie, a musician with sparkling brown eyes and a whiskey aura about him. She plans on creating a relationship with him; one with long walks, cuddles, and warm cups of tea.
All seems well until Eleanor meets Raymond, a junkie with an unshaven beard and a smoker's cough. Raymond shows Eleanor kindness and compassion without expecting anything in return. Eleanor realizes that she's never quite know how that feels, she's spent her whole life being unaware of how good people can be. "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine," is a masterpiece at work, with the challenging lesson of learning that everyone deserves love, and no one should ever feel alone. Loneliness is a dangerous thing and can infect you like a virus, but Eleanor learns to battle that and discover her worth.
With a heart-wrenching twist, you'll never expect, "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine," will leave you completely speechless, so go ahead, and pick it right on up.
(Reviewer Grade: 9)

Reviewer's Name: 
Hanna S

The Lifeboat Clique

The Lifeboat Clique
Author: 
Parks, Kathy
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

A story of social classes and hierarchy in a world under collapse.
Teenager Denver Reynolds has always envied the popular kids. But when catastrophe strikes, she must pull herself together and work with the people she despises most. You would think that a tsunami would put people in their places, but the terrifying reality of popularity is that it's infectious and makes people privileged. But when Denver and the popular kids are faced with life or death, it makes sense to try to work together. "Lifeboat Clique," is filled with laughs and riveting backstories. With know-it-all Denver, country-girl Abigal, flexible Sienna, dumb Haley, and egotistical Trevor we learn how people can put their differences aside and see each other for who they truly are and what unique abilities and useful characteristics they possess. Overall, "Lifeboat Clique," is a must-read, with twists and turns you'd never expect, it will leave you holding your breath; all you gotta do is jump right on in.
(Reviewer Grade: 9)

Reviewer's Name: 
Hanna S

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars book cover
Author: 
Green, John
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Nobody was more devastated than Hazel Grace’s mother when Hazel was diagnosed with lung cancer. Hazel was forced by her mom to attend a support group for cancer patients because her mom thought it would be beneficial for her mental health. At first Hazel was not excited to be in a support group, that is until she meets Augustus Waters. Augustus is a young man who had lost his leg to cancer, but through all of his hardships uses cancer for the basis of his sarcastic humor. Hazel and Augustus hit it off, and enjoy the bliss of a whirlwind romance. However, their happiness is cut short by a sudden tragedy that leaves one of them in total despair. And as John Green writes in this novel “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”
Reviewer Grade:12

Reviewer's Name: 
Madison S

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