Biography/Memoir

Book Review: Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures

Priceless : How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures
Author: 
Wittman, Robert K.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Are you a fan of true crime novels? Do you just love the excitement, the suspense of solving mysteries? Or do you like art and the masters like Leonardo de Vinci? This book is for you. Well on the outside this book might just seem like another true crime story it is really different. I always liked crime novels and tv shows and I was and still am interested in the work organizations like the FBI do to prevent crime. This book has a different approach to your classic true crime novel by not just focusing on how the FBI solves murders but by focusing on how one man (the author) went undercover in the FBI to help recover some of the world's most famous stolen art pieces. It centers around his life and shows other things than just his cases, like how he was suspected of killing his friend. It also tells the story of how he founded the FBI's Art Crime Team. Well this book may not be for everyone if you like a good true crime book this book may work for you. It is slow in parts but makes up for that by telling stories that seem absurd to realize actually happened.

Reviewer's Name: 
Emily

Book Review: Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio

Small steps: the year I got polio
Author: 
Kehret, Peg
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In this amazing autobiography, Peg tells the story about how she got polio and cheated death. When Peg found out she had polio her life changed. When she got to the hospital, she was terrified! When Peg meet her roommates, she realized that this was not the end of the world. She fights her battle with polio and wins it with the help of doctors therapists and her family. This book will entertain with ages from 6 to adult! I defiantly recommend this to read is your looking for a short great read.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Estella

Book Review: Man's Search for Meaning

Man's Search for Meaning
Author: 
Frankl, Viktor E.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Man’s Search for Meaning gives a rare perspective on life during the Holocaust. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was forced into four different labor camps during WWII, and ultimately survived, while his family members were all slaughtered. Most books from the Holocaust are centered around horror stories from prison camps, and the sheer brutality of one of human history’s most devastating genocides. Frankl gives the psychiatrist’s view on life after camp and works to answer one essential question - how do we move on from grief? He recounts the moment he was free to leave as confusing - almost more shocking than freeing. What do you do after your entire family is killed? Where do you go after being released from a death camp hundreds of miles from home?

The book’s storytelling is devastating and beautifully crafted, and its exploration of humanity’s search for lives worth living - lives significant for the individual - has become one of America’s most influential pieces of literature. The book is heartbreaking, but so is any story worth telling. It has everything to be expected from such a terrifying chapter in our history, but what makes it so unique is the way it addresses life after the terror ends. Anyone wanting to search for meaning in their own lives, or at the very least get a new perspective on the Holocaust, needs to read this.

Reviewer's Name: 
Malachi

Book Review: Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself
Author: 
Alda, Alan
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

After reading If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? , I decided to add some other Alan Alda books to my reading list. Months later, I finally got around to listening to the audiobook for Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself. I appreciate that Alda was the narrator, as he already has such a great voice for narration. That being said, there are a few aspects of this book that were likely lost in the translation to audiobook format.

As a celebrity, Alan Alda was invited to speak at many graduation ceremonies for many decades. This book is a collection of some of the speeches he gave at these events. While there are certainly gems of wisdom spread throughout this book, many of the same points are reiterated from speech to speech, making it slightly repetitive after a while. Also, if you don't happen to agree with some of his political views, you might not find some of the speeches particularly interesting. Despite all this, if you can glean some useful advice out of these speeches, then it was worth the read.

One thing I had trouble distinguishing in the audiobook version was where the speeches started and ended and where Alda's reflections and asides started. I would occasionally notice an echo in the recording, which likely indicated that it was one of his speeches. I think the echo was trying to replicate the sensation of listening to Alda in a large space (like the ones used for graduations), but it was so faint as to be indistinguishable from the rest of the book. I appreciate the attention to detail, but it could have been a little stronger.

Some useful graduation advice from Alan Alda, I give Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
Author: 
Kamkwamba, William and Mealer, Bryan
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

This book is one of the most inspirational stories I've ever read. The journey put forth, following William, is truly a gem that makes you think about what could've happened if something had been different. I loved reading it because I felt every details of William's journey to develop his windmill that put him on fame. His determination to prove that science is 'real' and can make a difference, especially during a time and in a culture that rejects it, shows his character and his want for a better life in his land. He perseveres through the struggles of drought and hunger, and overcomes the ridicule thrown from all sides to be able to rise up and rise above, and make his visions come true. A really inspirational story, that shows a hero's journey in a way not usually thought.

Reviewer's Name: 
Evelyn

Book Review: Wild Swans

Wild Swans
Author: 
Chang, Jung
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Jung Chang recalls the experiences of her grandmother, her mother, and finally herself, all in distinct eras of China in Wild Swans. While the book is about Chang's family and the hardships they faced under changing authorities, the account is just as much about the consequences of ideologies, and how our loyalties shape who we are. Chang describes the brutalities of Japanese occupation, as well as the callous nature of China under Mao Zedong. The book is slow at first but becomes thrilling with the rise of Mao, and Chang's detailing of life under Communism. Highly recommended for those interested in learning more about China in the twentieth century.

Reviewer's Name: 
Lily

Book Review: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave
Author: 
Douglass, Frederick
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass illustrates Douglass's life during slavery in Maryland and his attempts to make it to freedom. This narrative demonstrates the horrific situations/events and the terrible way slaves were treated throughout the time period of slavery way deeper than the average history text book. The narrative is extremely informative about life's of slaves since it goes into specifics about slaves being born, their living quarters, amounts of food, the masters, etc. It is very difficult to relate to or know exactly how a slave was treated in this time period; however, this book allows readers to understand the hideous and fearful actions that were taken against these human beings. This narrative brought tears to my eyes and shocking expressions to my face when reading certain real events that took place. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it was extremely well written because it allowed me to see more than what is taught in an American History class because Frederick Douglass goes so in-depth about his experiences in slavery throughout the narrative.

Reviewer grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Lana

Book Review: The Girl with Seven Names

The Girl with Seven Names
Author: 
Lee, Hyeonseo with David John.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Hyeonseo Lee is a young woman who was able to escape North Korea after years of determination and courage. Lee explains in great detail the brainwashing she and all other North Koreans have gone through and how they continue to be treated by their oppressive government. She also offers an insight into the daily life of a North Korean and thoroughly explains that the indoctrination is not the fault of the people, but the tyrannical governments. At the young age of 17, Lee must leave everything she has known behind as she escapes on her own and makes her way across the North Koreans and Chinese border (intending to make South Korea her final destination). While on the run, Lee realizes that her journey may not be as easy as she expected. Following her successful mission, she is able to flourish even more than she originally envisioned. As you read this book, you'll finally learn why she came to be known as "the girl with seven names."

Reviewer's Name: 
Jenna W.

Book Review: Permanent Record

Permanent Record
Author: 
Snowden, Edward
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Permanent Record is the memoir of Edward Snowden life. Snowden was the man who exposed and leaked how the US government used mass surveillance on enemies but also US citizens. Snowden knew so much of this system as he
was a former employee of the CIA. I choose this book because it's nonfiction and about an important event that happened recently. I also chose Permeant Record because I love reading about politics and government. This book
definitely surprised me because of Snowden's reasoning and motivation of why he did what he did. I liked Permanent Record because the readers get a first person perspective of the events that unfolded. Although I liked the book, I
disliked how Snowden's actions endangered the lives of several American spies, and other government officials.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ananth S.

Book Review: Kon-Tiki

Kon-Tiki
Author: 
Heyerdahl, Thor
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Kon-Tiki is a novel about a group of men who sail across the ocean on a polynesian raft with the bare necessities for life. Using barely any modern resources, like a GPS or Emergency SOS, they set sail in the early 1950’s. They wanted to prove that it is possible to sail to polynesia in a raft. The beginning was a little rough for me, as it was about the preparation, the, and the support behind the project. I disliked them going into so much detail about the raft they were trying to copy. They were trying to copy the exact rope, the exact bamboo, the exact position of launch, and the exact shape. If you are a story lover like me, it starts out rough, but it turns into a fabulous journey towards the middle. I enjoyed this book because of the sense of adventure and the sense of
exploration. It describes the adventure of meeting the Whale Shark with a passionate sense of adventure, describing the people on board being panicked at first, then treating it as a kind of puppy. This is a favorite of mine, due to the fact that the adventure was both interesting and thrilling. I recommend this book to anyone that is looking for an adventure on the sea.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan

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