Historical

Book Review: Code Talker

Code Talker
Author: 
Bruchac, Joseph
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Code Talker is about a Navajo (Native American) who uses his language to help win the war. It is World War Two and the United States of America is fighting against Japan. Every code the Americans have used to send secret information has been cracked by the Japanese. The Navajo language is one of the hardest languages to learn. The Americans, knowing that, chose Navajos to make a secret code to use at war. Ned Begay (the Navajo) and his friends risk their lives, going into war, making their own secret code, and saving millions of American lives.

I really liked this book. There were some slow parts of the book where I got a bit bored. There were other parts where I couldn't put the book down. I would recommend this book to people who like war books. This book has juicy details and is based off of a true story.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mackenzie H.

Book Review: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water

Book Cover
Author: 
Cho, Zen
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water follows a nun who joins a group of bandits trying to protect a religious relic from those who would destroy it. It's a novella, so that's really most of the book, but Zen Cho crams a ton of character development and plenty of plot into this short little read. The two main characters are so well drawn, and I absolutely fell in love with them. The banter between the bandits is loads of fun - I laughed out loud on multiple occasions. There are plenty of fight scenes. I got to learn the word wuxia (think Chinese martial arts heroes). It's very rare that I want a book to be longer, but I so wanted more of this. I'll be checking out Cho's backlist work, Sorcerer to the Crown. 4 stars - that was very good.

Thanks to Tor and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected on Water is available now - put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: Cry, the Beloved Country

Cry, the Beloved Country
Author: 
Paton, Alan
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Cry, the Beloved Country is a very good novel. It depicts the lives of Reverend Stephen Kumalo and white landowner, James Jarvis, during a time of turbulence in their lives. All of the characters in the novel are extremely well written and the character development is superb. The conflict in the novel feels very realistic and thrills the reader. The moral decisions and emotions faced by the two protagonists feel very weighty and captivate the reader. Overall, the book is a great novel that I would recommend to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven

Book Review: A Separate Peace

Book Cover
Author: 
Knowles, John
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

In his award-winning book, A Separate Peace, John Knowles writes a compelling story about a friendship at a New Hampshire boarding school. Revolving around the time of World War 2, two sixteen-year-old boys find themselves stuck between the brightness of youth and the solemn disparity of adulthood brought on by war. Gene is a studious serious loner who is the opposite of Phineas, the handsome and popular athlete. Although their personalities may be fundamentally different, they are best friends and roommates who do everything together. The book is narrated by Gene, the protagonist, who slowly begins to resent Phineas for his athletic talent and widespread popularity. In his mind, the once-trusted bond grows into a rivalry, and a rift begins to develop and separate them. Knowles writes the book in rich tones, laced with symbolism and meaning. As it dives deep into themes, this book is often required to be read in high school English class. It is admittedly slow moving, but still filled with marvelous lessons and morals. While I would definitely recommend reading this book at least once and praise it for its depth, personally, it was not incredibly engaging or life-changing for me. While A Separate Peace is an American classic, it lacks the emotional sentimentality that really makes a book stand out.

Reviewer's Name: 
Hope M.

Book Review: Homegoing

Homegoing
Author: 
Gyasi, Yaa
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi follows two bloodlines, from half sisters in Ghana. Each chapter is about one descendant, switching between families somthat two chapters in a row are one generation. The book is well written and includes details that tie well into real life history or beliefs, and each chapter is in fact written in correlation with a major historical event. Through these tie-ins, the book is able to remain exciting, and each chapter could be read as a standalone short story. Each character has an important story, and is revisited in following chapters from their bloodline, either from memory or real life interactions between their children or grandchildren. In addition to the basic storytelling and history included in the book, there is also an aspect of mysticism, and values/traditions that are native to African culture, making it a solid read for increasing knowledge or understanding of Ghanan culture. For me, there are moments in the book that seem unnecessary to the general plot and sometimes vulgar, but they end up being essential in the consistency of the way the story is told. Readers are able to attach themselves to each character, story arc, anddetail, then follow them throughout the series of stories.

Reviewer's Name: 
Malachi

Book Review: The Book Thief

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

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is my favorite book of all time. The story follows a young girl named Liesel Meminger growing up in Nazi Germany. Her love of books progresses throughout the plot, and the cast of characters she meets along the way help make the story the loveable masterpiece I know it as (personally, my favorite characters include Max Vandenburg, Rudy Steiner, and Hans Hubermann). This book is historical fiction, but I recommend it for most (if not all) readers. I typically read fantasy books, but I adore The Book Thief. The plot isn’t fast paced like adventure stories, and the events are on the ordinary side, but in my opinion the author does a brilliant job with descriptions and human connections within the book. Another reason I love this book is the use of the narrator--the way colors are described and the story is told is unique and wonderful to read. It’s a story about WWII told in a different perspective than other books we typically read at school, such as Night by Elie Wiesel or The Diary of Anne Frank. Even if you don’t particularly like the historical fiction genre, I would recommend giving this book a try. I first read it in 6th grade, but it is definitely not a story for just children. It is good for any age, and common sense media rates it for kids 13+.

Reviewer's Name: 
Cora G.

Book Review: Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart
Author: 
Achebe, Chinua
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

“Things Fall Apart” follows Okonkwo as he becomes a very successful man with many yams, several wives, and political power in Umuofia. The whole first part of the book focuses on his characterizing Okonkwo and showing what tribal culture was like. The author uses subtle references to Europeans to set up the main conflict of the book, European culture. Before the Europeans reach Umofia, Okonkwo accidentally kills a clansmen and is exiled. For the period of his exile, Okonkwo watches from the outside as his own village is changed radically by Christian missionaries.
Overall, I think this book is worth a read for the powerful theme, it wasn’t something I would want to read again because so much of the book was just about life in Umuofia, which was a bit mundane. Onkonkwo was also a pretty static character, there was no character development either. He just wanted to be the opposite of his father, was very strict, harsh, and closeminded. I did like the metaphors and proverbs in the book. I remember a metaphor that stood out in particular was, “Living Fire begets cold,
impotent ash.” I also enjoyed the later portion of the book where the Europeans missionaries arrive and the Onkonkwo provides a different perspective on the situation, and the theme is more clearly defined and developed.

Reviewer's Name: 
McKenzie

Book Review: Maplecroft: The Borden Dispatches

Maplecroft: The Borden Dispatches
Author: 
Priest, Cherie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Everyone is has heard the macabre childhood rhyme about Lizzie Borden, and the gruesome murders that took place in Fall River, Massachusetts. Many have questioned the acquitted Lizzie's innocence, but few have explored if there might have been a very justified reason for Ms. Borden to wield her infamous axe. After the trial, the Borden sisters have retired to a more secluded life in their new home called Maplecroft. In a scenario worthy of HP Lovecraft, Cherie Priest uses her Fantasy/Horror/Mystery skills to shape a very different version of Fall River - one where people are starting to act "peculiar". Something from the ocean is calling to them, controlling them, and causing them to change, and commit murderous acts. Lizzie and her studious sister Emma, have seen something like this before, but they had hoped it had ended with their parents. Unbeknownst to the town, the Borden sisters have been keeping mysterious night creatures at bay, but now townspeople are becoming infected with some madness Lizzie and Emma suspect may engulf the town. Lizzie searches for answers in ancient lore, while Emma conducts her research in modern science. Can their combined efforts save the very town that shuns them?

This book is not for the faint of heart, as it details some ghastly fight, and murder scenes, but it is a fresh paranormal take on an existing notorious history. Maplecroft:The Borden Dispatches is available in book form, but can also be downloaded in eBook and eAudiobook formats.

Reviewer's Name: 
Chris W.

Book Review: Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two
Author: 
Bruchac, Joseph
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Code Talker is about the struggles and successes of a Navajo man entering the Marines. This book shows how worthless Navajo were treated by white men until they prove their value. I would have liked more detail but it does manage to describe the treatment of Navajo people around World War II. During the book the Navajos support each other as they each overcome their challenges with white men. The Navajo seem to be more civilized than white men in this book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan

Book Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow
Author: 
Towles, Amor
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

A Bolshevik tribunal puts Count Alexander Rostov under lifelong house arrest at The Hotel Metropol, a real luxury establishment located near the Kremlin, at the start of the Soviet Union. This man, who has never worked a day in his life, uses his considerable charm to carve out an existence while bearing witness to some very tumultuous decades. The people he meets, loves and opposes over the next 30 years help the nobleman determine a purpose in life under reduced circumstances. His evolution over the decades and his charm make the Count, who could have been insufferable in a different situation, someone many would befriend. This beautifully written second novel by the author of The Rules of Civility provides an interesting perspective on Soviet history, what it means to be a family and the reasons why to keep on living, even in a gilded prison.

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

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