Paul’s review of The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

the-family-romanov-candace-flemingSurrounding the mystery of the shooting of the last Romanovs, this book delves into the personal and political background of the Czar Nicholas II’s family’s murder in 1918, and beyond. Written almost like a diary with daily entries of important events, Fleming follows the daily life of the Russian royal family, their activities, interests, personalities, and problems, using multiple sources including people who actually worked for them. In addition to a description of the pivotal events of the Russian Revolutions of 1917, the major social causes are documented, showing the desperate situation of the peasants and city workers in imperial Russia, as well as the disastrous involvement in the Great War. Even to this day, scholars continue to figure out what happened to the last Romanov family, but this book brings some sense of closure to their case.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great historical mystery, and a detailed description of the Russian Revolutions and seeks a greater knowledge of the Romanov family, as this book only covers a few years in depth, including many images. It is quite helpful in understanding what happened and why. I was quite surprised how the author was able to paint a detailed picture of the shooting, even explaining who died when and where, showing the collaboration with forensic scientists. This book is actually quite an easy read because of its story- and journal-like structure, so there is no need for a degree in history to comprehend the language used in this book.

Paul rates this book 5/5


Paul’s Review of The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley

51okpowdwbl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Written by a bestseller journalist who embarks on a trip around the world, this book explores different viewpoints countries have on education. Centered around three American exchange students to Finland, South Korea and Poland, some of the highest performing nations on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, Ripley follows these students and does some research of her own to understand why these rising (or risen) countries have been so successful in comparison to the United States. Furthermore, she delves into the driving factors and effects of the current system on the students and the society as a whole, as well as the lesson that we can take away from each other.

This book personally resounded with me very well, and I believe should be very insightful to anyone who dares to check it out. Ripley makes a very well structured, but flexible report and analysis, beginning with an explanation, utilizing evidence and statistics, and finally making her personal statements. I feel that her essay may prove to be a reality shock, but can extend to more than these three countries and the US, as she does refer to other nations and departments, not just education, making this book more applicable to multiple aspects of global society. I would definitely recommend all students and staff to read this book located at 370.9 in the nonfiction section of the Lynbrook Library.

Paul rates this book 5/5


Cynthia’s Review of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

30116958Genie Lo is a tall Chinese girl with a temper and will out-study you any day. Quentin Sun is the weird new kid who has incredible muscles and is Sun Wukong, the Monkey King. Demons are showing up in the Bay Area and the gods want the pair to hunt them down. Genie’s got her grades to worry about— who cares about the magical powers she’s manifesting?

EVERYONE READ THIS IMMEDIATELY. It’s a Xiyouji / Journey to the West retelling. It’s the first retelling of these stories I’ve ever read. It’s incredibly funny, Genie’s voice is amazing, Quentin is quippy about everything and I love him because I am impressively weak when it comes to trickster characters. Genie struggles with fighting demons and homework, her parents are separated, the book talks about classism. She gets invited to watch a violin competition and if that isn’t realism I’m eating a piano (and the book being set in the Bay Area with an angry Asian girl who’s starting to go through the college admissions process just hits so close to home. Literally. Oops). She punches demons. The demons are crushed with great sass. Basically everyone is Asian. Genie hates boba. Erleng Shen and Guanyin are characters and this is VALIDATION. I cried three times while reading/thinking about this book for reasons completely unrelated to the plot, thought that might be because I’m a wreck today — white people, you have no idea what this book means to me. Even I didn’t know what this book meant to me until I saw it on display. These were the stories I grew up on. I love it.

Cynthia gives this book a rating of several dozen supernovas.

Review: The Finisher by David Baldacci



Vega Jane has lived in the town of Wormwood her whole life. She was always told entering the forest surrounding Wormwood was certain death, and she believed it too, until she sees Quentin Herms run into it. Or was he chased? She doesn’t know until she finds a map that could jeopardize her life. A map of the very place she was told never to enter, and for good reason. Still, Vega Jane want to leave, but will she make it to the forest of doom, or will the liars she called authority get to her first?

If you enjoy books with action and a little, but not too much, romance, then The Finisher is the book for you. The language used is a little strange, but entertaining once you catch on. If you read this book and enjoy it, there are two more books after this one, The Keeper and The Width of the World.

This reviewer rates The Finisher 5/5

Review: The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason

23565495In the third book of the Clockwork Scarab series, Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker are asked to become bodyguards for Lurelia, the princess of Betrovia, who is carrying a letter that has important information about the whereabouts of a chess queen that has been lost for centuries. Later on, when the princess is attacked and kidnapped, she reveals that someone has been blackmailing for the letter about the chess queen. As part of a scheme to find out more about the blackmailer and Pix’s shady dealings, Mina and Evaline go to a men’s club. Although the girls do not find Pix, they learn that he has been kidnapped and make plans to find him. The girls find Pix strapped to a chair connected to electricity by the Ankh from book one of the series. Will the girls save Pix and discover the secret of the chess queen? Or will they fall into the trap that a devious enemy set for them with the help of someone who they considered their friend?

I would recommend this book to readers interested in fantasy and who enjoy plot twists. Before reading this book, check out the Clockwork Scarab and Spiritglass Charade, Book 1 and 2 of the series.The book has paranormal elements such as time travel and vampires, and parts of romance. Though the book is filled with many plot twists as people who were thought to be friends reveal their true image, the ending of the book is perhaps the biggest plot twist of all as it goes against the entire story. However, the identity of their enemy from Book 1 is still not revealed, despite Mina’s firm conclusions.

This reviewer rates the book 4.5/5

Review: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

24397041Hunter follows the story of Joyeaux Charmand, a girl who is sent from her home to a city called Apex to fight monsters in a futuristic world. Joy is a hunter, a person with magical powers that access the spirit world. Joy travels from her home to keep the city from finding the other hunters on the mountain. She discovers that hunters in the city are viewed as entertainment rather than protectors of the citizens. When her mentor gets killed in a territory that was meant for Joy, she is determined to figure out who would want to get her killed.

I would recommend Hunter to anyone who enjoys fantasy books without a lot of romance. This book is action packed with plot twists and monsters flying our of sewers at every turn. Joy is constantly on the move fighting monsters and defending herself against her rival hunters. There was never a moment when I felt like the book was moving at a slow pace. However, as a fan of romance novels, I would have liked to see her relationship with Josh better developed.

This reviewer rates the book 4.5/5

Cassandra’s review of The Reader by Traci Chee

25064648“If anything could be a book, there was no telling what you could learn, if you knew what to look for. Smooth river stones spelled out across a mossy floor. Lines drawn in the sand. Or inscribed on the side of a fallen log, half-obscured by twigs and mulch: This is a book.” The Reader by Traci Chee begins with Sefia, who escapes to the forest with her aunt Nin after her father is viciously murdered. The two of them are able to survive in the wilderness together until Nin gets kidnapped. Suddenly on her own, Sefia will do anything in her power to rescue Nin. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object left behind by her parents, something she comes to realize is a book. Sefia slowly learns how to read, unearthing the Book’s secrets, which could explain the cause of all of her misfortune. With the help of legendary pirates and a boy-soldier, Sefia sets out on a dangerous adventure to rescue her aunt. Through the journey, she learns more about the world around her and the power she has to change it.

I loved The Reader!!! It took me a while to get into it (especially when the point of view switched from Sefia to Lon), but after I got through a slight reading slump, I breezed through the book. The characters are wonderful! Sefia is a tough girl with a strong moral conscience. I loved how there are multiple story lines that run through The Reader, which eventually intertwine in a plot twisting way. The balance between character development (the “slow” moments) and action was perfect. Also, it is hard to pinpoint an evil character, because you get an idea of how everyone is thinking [omniscient narration]. I would recommend The Reader to anyone who likes fantasy. (The Reader kind of reminds me of Six of Crows.) I can’t wait till the second book comes out!!

Cassandra rates this book 5/5