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Library Blog

Welcome to our bumper Book Week library blog with book reviews by students, parents, and staff!

Our reviews cover the genres of Classic Fiction, Sci-fi, Mystery and more.  I’m sure you will find something to interest you among these great reviews. A big thank you to everyone who contributed!

Illuminae

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.
Review by English Teacher Gruffud Jones. 

There’s a myth that science fiction involves limited characterisation, and relies instead on innovative presentations of action, cool spaceships and big explosions. In truth, this only applies to the better examples. Consequently, Illuminae doesn’t quite fall into the ‘best’ category but comes close enough to deserve a recommendation. I’ve read a lot of SF over the years and didn’t find the plot to be particularly original. What I did enjoy was the original approach to storytelling and the fast pace. It also finds interesting ways of presenting familiar situations. Both Kady and Ezra are interestingly drawn and likeable; the humour of their banter endears them further, and there are several well-timed gags. The format of the book enables the authors to censor all the swearing, thus allowing a slightly more realistic depiction of teenage language than most YAs manage, which I found refreshing. 

Misletoe

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens. 

Review by Eleanora Bruch (Yr 8). 

Over the Christmas holidays friends Hazel and Daisy are invited to stay in Cambridge with Daisy’s great aunt and her brother. Hazel is very excited to visited gorgeous libraries and have a calm vacation, but Daisy is waiting for something exciting to happen, and is convinced to find it very soon. Violent accidents take place, first harmless but then two brothers are murdered one after the other. This mystery novel deals mostly with issues of friendship, family life and relationships, all combined at once which makes it a delight to read. Personally, reading about the 20s and 30s is my favourite as it takes place during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. What I think is inspiring is that for Hazel, Daisy is part of her family and she does everything to fit in a bit more even if she has a different religion and a different skin colour. 

The Book of laughter

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera.

Review by parent Martin Kratochvíl. 

I was happy when The Book of Laughter and Forgetting returned to the Czech Republic after long 40 years. Milan Kundera wrote it in 1975 when he left Prague and was headed to Paris. Publishing the book in his home country was not possible because of political reasons. Hence the book was published for the first time in 1979 in French. Then it wandered across the world being published in many other countries and languages. Each page of this book is exciting. Each book of this author is a very strong experience. I recommend reading this masterpiece, as well as other novels of Kundera. 

Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

Review by Rohan Sahni (Yr 8). 

An old fisherman goes to sea with some hope of getting fish as in the past he barely got any. Then a battle is imminent as a marlin is swimming next to the skiff. I enjoyed the book because it shows how to do something without any help, and I enjoyed it because it is an adventure to be out long on the sea. The book made me feel motivated as some sentences said by Santiago were very motivating. When he loses hope, he always says something aloud to gain his hope. I feel that I understand the character of Santiago because sometimes I am in his shoes. Something I have learned from the book (e.g. about yourself, other people, life in general) is that it is not bad if you have no one accompanying or helping you. You can help yourself when you are in a situation. 

East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck. 

Review by parent Stefan Hildt. 

I’m not much of a fiction reader, but out of desperation one day, I picked this up at home (friends passed on some books when they left Warsaw), started reading – and could not put it down. What a page-turner! I remember starting it when I was a kid and being impressed by the description of nature and scenery in California, but this time, the characters and storyline immediately hooked me. Cathy Ames must be one of the most evil characters ever thought-up. The story covers the whole mystery of life, good vs evil, right and wrong, and the power we have to make our own choices. It covers a fascinating period in American history from the civil war to WW1 and even gets across how the Model T Ford was the iPhone of the time (or vice versa?) A great introduction to American literature, by a Nobel Prize winner. For senior students. 

The English Patient

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.  

Review by the PTA. 

In January many of the PTA committee and friends read and discussed The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. A dying man, trapped in a charred body, is tended to by a young nurse who is herself battling loss.  We had a wide-ranging response to the book, some were swept up with the poetry of the language, some remembered it from the film as a love story and were disappointed that there was no happily ever after, and some found it really hard work and not the uplifting read we needed in January.  However, it is a book that ultimately rewards the reader, a poet’s novel, Michael Ondaatje is a master of language with amazing imagery and eloquence.  A beautiful, technically ambitious and profoundly moving novel that we were all glad we’d read. Definitely a book for older readers with time to invest, the book is not an easy read.  

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