The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku

Review by John

The Happiest Man on Earth is about how Eddie Jaku survived the Holocaust with hope, kindness, friendship, and skills. 

He was born in 1920 and grew up in Leipzig, Germany. He went to university, studied to become an engineer, and became friends with Kurt Hirschfield. In 1938 he was captured by the Nazis and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp where he suffered immensely. His friend was a guard for the camp and immediately told his boss that Eddie is a skilled engineer. The Nazis released him 6 months later and sent him to work at a factory to aid the germans in making bombs to help them in WWII. While he was being transferred he attempted to escape, but was unsuccessful in doing so and was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. The Nazis did not send Eddie to the gas chambers because he was of great use to them with his advanced engineering skills. At this camp, he was reunited with his friend Kurt who was sent there because of his anti-Nazi behavior. Eddie and Kurt shared food and huddled together during the cold winter nights to prevent freezing to death. Eddie wanted to end his life several times during all this madness but his buddy Kurt gave him hope and convinced him otherwise. The two managed to survive until the Allied Forces won the war and liberated them from the Nazis. Eddie moved to Australia afterward and he started his own family.  spend the rest of his life telling the world about his experiences during the Holocaust. 

I believe the book’s message is to spread kindness and to have hope. Eddie wouldn’t have survived if he didn’t have these qualities. I recommend this book because it will give insight into all the crimes that the Nazis committed against the Jews and a new perspective on life.

White Lies by Sara de Waard

Review by Suha

White lies is an amazing heartfelt story. It touches on those difficult feelings and brings out a lot of emotions. Missy’s sweet 16 is just around the corner, but her birthday is not something she wants to celebrate. This date brings back a couple traumatizing memories of events she’s been through. Any other kid or person would be excited for their birthday but Missey dreads it. She dreads every single day. Life hasn’t been easy for her. After suffering the loss of a loved one at 13 and her mother being in prison Missy lives everyday on the edge. And to top it all off, her father is an abusive alcoholic. Every day Missy is reminded that the trauma herself and her family has gone through is her fault. Due to all the mental stress Missey is numb, mentally and emotionally numb. 

Do you think Missy’s life will turn around for the better? Will she meet someone that will turn her upside down life, right side up? I won’t spoil it for you so read to find out!! Personally I have a hard time liking books because not many authors know how to write. They have amazing storylines but they just can’t put it into the right words. But this book is written so well. It’s very descriptive which I always love about a book. Everything in this book goes so well together, it’s not repetitive, and what happens within the story fits. The events aren’t so overwhelmingly described to where they don’t correspond with the story. These things happen in real life too. This book is well worth your time, and if you love a great book about mental health you’ll love it!! Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and I would definitely recommend it for anyone. There isn’t a specific age rating, just make sure you’re okay with reading about sensitive topics.

Will by Will Smith

Review by John

Will Smith was born in 1968 in West Philadelphia. He grew up with his 2 siblings Harry, Ellen, and his motherm and fatherdad. The Will Smith autobiography offers many lessons about how to succeed and win in life. It also documents all of thehis accomplishments ofin his career. Smith’sHis first lesson is to take it one brick at a time. Building a massive wall seems impossible but if you lay one brick at a time it suddenly is no longer impossible. Another lesson is if you want something in life you have to go get it and discipline yourself. Without discipline, you won’t be able to push yourself to achieve your dreams. Will Smith gave it his all in everything he did and that’s why he is so successful. Will Smith started out as a rapper. In high school, he would spend all his free time coming up with new rhymes. All this hard work paid off and he released his first hit song “Girls ain’t nothing but trouble”. He would tour the country and continue to release the most fire music. He then was the star in a hit tv show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. He would go on to be several box office record-breaking movies. “Men In Black” “Pursuit of Happyness” “I am Legend” and many more. I had a great time reading this autobiography. I recommend this book if you want to push yourself and achieve all of your dreams.

The Satellite Love by Genki Feguson

Review by Eliana

The Satellite love is sad yet strange combined with a beautiful aspect written by Genki Ferguson. The book is set in 1999 in Japan in a somewhat impoverished area with a Japanese-American girl named Anna. She struggles with actuality as she lives her day-to-day life with her imaginary friends, which helps her cope with the hardships of her life. 

She looks to the satellites for comfort, which is when her relationship with Leo begins. Without giving too much detail on what happens in the novel, Anna will conclude that you don’t always need physical friends to have a fulfilling life.

This book gets a solid 8.5/10 for me since I would have loved for Anna to evolve more as a character, but all around, the book was delightful, from the way the author wrote it all around to the way we get a multitude of different character’s points of views. 

The story all comes together beautifully, the author did a great job capturing how the characters were feeling at every moment, which sometimes can be challenging for many authors.

Seeing how Anna’s grandfather would forget who she was due to his Alzheimers was so sad to read at times. Then, to add insult to injury, Anna became used to the fact that her grandfather would have little to no memory of her ever. Anna had it pretty hard considering that she had to take care of her sick grandfather while her mom was never home to even take care of her.

The novel is excellent for people who want a good emotional story that can hit close to home at certain moments.

I could see myself reading more of Genki’s books based on the formatting; for Anna to go through so much and still not care about being an outcast in her school is enjoyable to read. 

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

Book review by Eliana

The Comfort Book is all about the beauty of being broken. It puts an emphasis on mental health, self-acceptance and all things encircling self-help. 

Matt Haig does a remarkable job of executing the normalization of not being perfect and excepting imperfections, he goes even as far as talking about his battles with depression, self-deprecation and suicidal thoughts in the past. Throughout my time reading this non-fictional book, I analyzed as well how striking the format of this book is.

Matt chose to write the book less like a standard mental health book, but more as a book of constant declarations and small glimpses of his and or others’ pasts and narratives in history. 

He wrote the book with such ease, you could connect to nearly everything that was in the book one way or another. There are several hearts-to-heart moments where it will have you altering your outlook on your life and the world around you.

Now for my take and opinion on this book. For starters, I have nothing negative to say about it, the format as I mentioned was so well done and different from anything I’ve seen. The book isn’t very long with only 250 pages, which is great if you want a quick and well-written read. From my own life experiences, I most definitely wish I had found this book sooner because I remember how badly I needed these types of words of encouragement to remind me that every moment of sadness, happiness and confusion I feel in my heart, mind and soul is for a reason.

One thing that I found fascinating about this read was the fact that Matt Haig doesn’t even have a background in mental health such as a bachelor’s degree of any sort, he uses his personal experiences to allow the book to have a more relatable touch to it.

I love how recent this book is as well because you can tell he was living and experiencing the same things as us all during the pandemic. His choice of releasing the book was also very practical considering everyone was in their homes, unable to live the life we all once lived. Matt speaking about things such as comfortability, awareness and a positive mindset was something that everyone needed during this time of hardship and stress.

The Comfort book, I could describe as a “personal best friend that always tells you the right things, the hard truth and reminds you of your worth”. The book touches on many difficulties and needs we have in life and one way or another I felt touched by Matt Haig’s words.

I most unquestionably would recommend this book to every and anyone, whether you’re going through something or just need more words of encouragement.

The Pegan Diet by Mark Hyman

Book review by John

 The “Pegan Diet” is written by Mark Hyman who is a famous physician who had dedicated his career to helping people fight chronic illness. He has 9 New York Time bestsellers. He has been a guest on many tv shows like The Dr. Oz Show. The “Pegan Diet” is a combination of vegan and paleo. The Paleo diet is similar to the vegan diet except for where they get their protein from. Vegans get their protein from beans and plant-based nutrients while paleo can eat meat and animal by-products. The “Pegan Diet” is an educational book that teaches you how to use food as medicine to promote longevity, brain health, gut health, and many more benefits. Do you want to stop constantly getting sick, want better-looking skin, have more energy throughout the day, lose weight, and have fewer allergies symptoms? If you said yes to any of those then you have to give this book a read. Eating right is also linked with good mental health, you will have a better mood when you consume the correct foods. This book also offers easy recipes for every meal of the day, snacks, and desserts, that can be made in a snap to satisfy your hunger and help heal your body as well. It also teaches how you can eat healthy without breaking the bank. Many other health experts have used this diet with great results. I recommend this book to everyone who wants to live their best life ailment free. 

He Must Like You by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Book review by Sydney

“He Must Like You” is a complex back throbbing, heavy, thought out story. It is about a young teenage girl who’s future path has torn into bits and pieces, because of a number of men. She has to mend together all her problems to be able to solve them. Including missing tuition money, a sexual harsser at work, bad relationships, and a very neglectful father.

Libby is a struggling character who faces so many problems that she has to solve herself. Senior year is not going so good for her. Her brother has left for a Greek Island after taking all his college money with him. While Libby has to pay for her college tuition herself, her parents have taken her money, and decided to kick her out after graduation. They believe this will fix the many money problems they have. Trying to find a good job is too hard because of her father’s mental health issues, that had caused him to lose many jobs in their town. 

A drunken hook-up with her coworker Kyle has left her confused, she was into it, then she wasn’t, then she just couldn’t stop. She is so confused she called it a “sort of” rape. Libby works at The Goat, as a waitress. She continues to be harassed by the well-known customer Perry Ackerman, where he pushes her buttons. The thing is that Perry is Libby’s mom’s boss, so she can’t do much about it (for now). As Perry continues, she decides she’s had enough and won’t take it anymore.

I enjoyed Libby’s character a lot. Danielle can truly make a book so realistic-feeling, and emotional. From time to time the mysteries are slowly revealed and you get deeper into the book and enjoy yourself more. This book is recommended for teens and older readers. It’s definitely not recommended for younger ages due to the fact that the author gets into detail. I loved this book and wouldn’t regret reading it. I won’t say much to spoil, but the end turns out with a happy, more relaxed story for Libby. If this review has interested you, I would say to go read the book now!

Bear Bottom by Stuart Gibbs

Book review by John

 A mysterious thief has been stealing endangered buffalo from Mr. Krautheimer’s ranch. He needs Teddy to find the bison thief and put a stop to this wickedness. Teddy is an incredible detective and has solved many cases at the Fun Jungle Zoo. It is a mix between an amusement park and a zoo. Mr. Krautheimer is confident that Teddy will solve this crime. Will he be able to crack the case before any more buffalo go missing or will the farmer be out of a job and a home? JJ, owner of Fun Jungle was the one who informed him about Teddy. He plans to buy the ranch to turn it into an attraction and expand to new locations. His wife, Kandace’s multi-million dollar sapphire necklace suddenly goes missing after a bear attack in Mr. Krauhtheimer’s house no less. Did the bear accidentally eat the necklace during the encounter or was it swiped during the chaos? There is also illegal baiting going on as well. Baiting is when you set up food for bears like honey and meat in the same area so they keep coming back to that place for food making them easier to locate and hunt. It is considered inhumane, unsportsmanlike, and is heavily regulated. This book is a must-read for any mystery lover. It is full of twists and turns. It’s jam-packed with suspense leaving you on the edge of your seat. You will not want to put the book down whatsoever while reading. Each chapter leaves you on a teeth-chattering cliff-hanger. I recommended this book to all thrill-seeking readers. 

Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Book review by Sydney

“Charming As A Verb” by Ben Philippe, begins explaining the life of a young FATE Academy, dog walker, by the name of Henri Haltiwanger. Henri is an amazing debater, one of the most popular students at the academy, and the most reliable dog walker, for his New York City neighbors. Henri can charm anyone, just with a little show of his easy smile. 

All of Henri’s friends have been accepted to their dream university, while he is still on the wait list. Henri’s constant ambition to attend his dream university (Columbia University), causes his life to turn in the opposite direction.

He later found out that he had to dog-walk for his apartment neighbour’s dog, while running into the most fierce classmate in school, Corinne Troy. The more closer he got to her the more risk he had to take with his dream, and future life. When she uncovers Henri’s big plot of the fake dog-walking business, she blackmails him into helping her change her school life style. Henri likes the idea of this, because Troy’s mother is the one who could help him with his dream university.

Henri is a complex character to understand at first, the way that he tries finding a different path to take, to get through many challenges in his life. He is charming, and a very likeable character. Which helps you understand how hard it is for him in his life. He is a character who makes real mistakes that have lasting consequences of his life, but his character always develops and he is always able to take care of the consequences of what he has done, and makes sure the ones he loves and knows don’t get hurt from it.

I definitely fell in love with this book, and would definitely recommend it to any readers who enjoy complicated, and life problem teen novels with a touch of romance. This book made my heart skip at some points, and made me feel like I was Henri, facing those problems myself. 

Dark Waters by Katherine Arden

Book review by Meah

This book was nerve-wracking and thrilling to read – constantly keeping you on the edge of your seat as you read through the chapters.  It displays what people do and who they become when presented with these chilling, emotional, and terrifying situations. But even through these notions I really enjoyed how the author didn’t have a constant of who the directed “leader” was in the group. 

Whatever situation was presented to them at the time, the name “leader” fell upon whosever’s skills or past helped them in that moment. For example, because Brian has experience in the wilderness, he mainly took charge in these situations.  We see this as a recurring theme whenever the time is right: Brian having resourcefulness and thinking quick on his feet as a strength; Coco, being athletic, brave, and sympathetic; Ollie remaining authoritative, cool-headed, and focused; and our newest addition – Phil being cooperative and courageous. 

Another recurring theme I noticed is how Arden really helps the readers understand what’s going on as she references the other two previous books: Small Spaces and Dead Voices.  This was extremely helpful to me because Dark Waters is book three in this trilogy and I did not read the two that came before this. It really gave me an understanding and helped me comprehend what had happened previously.  This book is truly amazing and the writing is impeccable, although this book is just fiction (or is it?). If I didn’t know better I’d say it was real, with her incredible writing it makes this story really believable.  Overall, if you are looking for a thrilling novel that’ll send chills down your spine, Dark Waters by Katherine Arden is the book for you.