The Power Of Stories – ISKL Book Reviews For Semester 1

Throughout Semester 1, our whole community, including Middle (MS) and High School (HS) students, faculty, parents, and staff, have taken part in book reviews to share their favorite novels.
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Home » ISKL Blog » The Power Of Stories – ISKL Book Reviews For Semester 1

“Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.” – Professor Rudine Sims Bishop

Keeping our students engaged in books and conversations about books is a powerful way to help them grow as learners and readers. Throughout Semester 1, our whole community, including Middle (MS) and High School (HS) students, faculty, parents, and staff, have taken part in book reviews to share their favorite novels.

When recommending a book, the readers determine the criteria by looking at the following:

  • Books that influenced them.
  • Guilty pleasures.
  • Fiction or nonfiction.
  • A particular genre.
  • Books that stayed with them for some reason or another.
  • Books they think that every person should read.

Many thanks to our wonderful librarians for compiling these reviews and our community for sharing their favorite stories. Check many of these titles out at our MS/HS Library!

Here is a recap of the books reviewed:

Middle & High School Students

The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni

The Eight Day book cover

“When Jax wakes up to a world without people, he assumes it’s the zombie apocalypse. But when he runs into his eighteen-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, he learns that he’s in the eighth day—an extra day sandwiched between Wednesday and Thursday. Some people—like Jax and Riley—are Transitioners, able to live in all eight days, while others, including Evangeline, the elusive teenage girl hiding in the house next door, exist only on this special day.

There’s a reason Evangeline’s hiding. She is a descendant of the powerful wizard Merlin, and a group of people wish to use her to destroy the ordinary seven-day world and all who live in it. Torn between protecting his new friend and saving the entire human race from destruction, Jax is faced with an impossible choice. Even with an eighth day, time is running out.”  ~ Sophia H. (‘29)

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare, Maus by Art Spiegelman & Hostage by Guy Delisle

Chain Maus Hostage Book Covers

“Chain of Gold” by Cassandra Clare and the sequel ” Chain of Iron “kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time I read them! Mystery and lovers’ quarrels are big in these books!”

“Maus by Art Spiegelman – a unique portrayal of the events of World War II!”

“Hostage by Guy Delisle. The author drew the book as if the images were leaping to life! I felt the main character’s pain and loneliness.” ~ Nadia M.(‘28)

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Refugee by Alan Gratz Book Cover

“I recommend this book because it provides three perspectives from three kids in different timelines – all refugees. One is Jewish, going to the USA to escape Hitler. Another refugee is a girl going to America because of the political imbalance in her country Cuba.

And finally, the third is a Syrian boy (Syrian) headed to Germany because of a war in his country. The book speaks a lot about the hardship of refugees and how hard it is to be new to a country.” ~ Aydin M. (‘27)

Shining Mortal Heart Pipers Pursuit Book Covers

The Shining by Stephen King

“I loved reading about the haunted hotel that the Torrance family moves into.” ~ Katelyn S. (‘27)

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

“It’s a gripping Young Adult  romance/adventure book that is part of a series (His Fair Assassin), but it can be read as a standalone book.” ~ Zahra S (‘26)

The Piper’s Pursuit by Melanie Dickerson

“This adaptation of “The Pied Piper” story is unique in how the author, Melanie Dickerson, twists the story and adds new elements from the mysterious beast killing villagers and children to the characters. The characters also have interesting plotlines, for e.g. Katerina and her desire to protect and be protected, Steffan and his desire to redeem himself, and the love story between them.” ~ Adele C. (‘25)

The Silent Companions Book Cover

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

“This is a horror book set in the Victorian era with an ancient and possibly haunted house. I recommend this book – it will give you the chills! There are a lot of twists and turns throughout the book’s plot. This is not a very gory horror but mostly paranormal and psychological. It will spook you!” ~ Kuhi S. (‘25)

Six of Crows Book Cover

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

“While I was away from KL on my Global Action Program (GAP) trip, I read the book Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, as quite a few of my friends recommended it. It’s extremely easy to get involved in the book, and the buildup, although perhaps slow at first, immediately becomes worth it when the plot is revealed. The author’s characters are awesome and beautifully crafted, and you want to know what happens next with each page turn. I recommended the book to my teacher after I finished it, and he also fell in love with it! I suggest anyone who enjoys reading a good book read Six of Crows!” ~ Vinyasa P. (‘25)

The Whole Town's Talking Book Cover

The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg

“I love this book so much because it has such a homey feel. It tells the story of the creation and ultimate growth of a small town called Elmwood Springs in rural Missouri; throughout the story, you become attached to the characters and begin to love and care about them. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a relaxing heartwarming story.” ~ Rosie P. (‘24) and member of the HS Book Lovers Club.

Faculty & Staff

Fire Keeper's Daughter Book Cover

Fire Keeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

“This book was one of many new books I was super excited about reading! I love that this book immerses the reader in protagonist Daunis Fountaine’s bicultural identity, her being the daughter of a white French Canadian mother and her late father of the Sugar Land Ojibwe Tribe (near Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan). Daunis has just graduated from high school, when the novel begins.

The story is a mystery revolving around a tragedy that befalls Daunis and her community but also gives readers a window into First Nations traditions, beliefs, and community structure. The plot is gripping, and the characters are super intriguing; not only is Daunis challenged by her bi-cultural identity, she faces challenges and gender assumptions being a competitive hockey player, a girl in “a boy’s world”. I couldn’t put it down and was sad when the story ended – not because it was not a satisfying ending, but because my time with Daunis and her community was over. I highly recommend it!” ~ Lisa Jensen-Hengstler, MS/HS librarian

More Book Recommendations from Faculty

Teachers Book Recommendation Poster

Teachers Book Recommendations

Library Author Recommendation: Stephen King

The Wind Through the Keyhole, The Talisman and The Stand

Stephen King Books

“The Wind Through the Keyhole is considered “book 4.5” in King’s Dark Tower series, but it was published after the rest of the series.”

“The Talisman is co-written with Pete Straub. This book has action and adventure featuring a fearless 12-year-old protagonist, Jake, who discovers he can move between two parallel worlds where the world’s “twinners” live. Jake is sent on a quest to find the Talisman to save his mother and her twinner, the Queen.”

“The Stand may be better suited for HS audiences, but this is another of King’s best works and one of his earliest (his fifth book, to be exact, first published in 1978). The book combines elements of science fiction, fantasy, and horror; and is structured in three parts: “Captain Trips,” “On the Border,” and “The Stand.

This epic tale takes place after a plague kills most of the American population.”

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