The Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff

Allegra Shapiro was looking forward to a nice relaxing summer, free of school, free of softball, and free of worries. Her plans were abruptly changed when she found out that she had been selected to perform at the finals of the prestigious Ernest Bloch Competition for Young Musicians of Oregon.  She was one of only a few finalists to have been selected from eighty five initial contestants! To make matters even more nerve-racking, Allegra was only 12 and her music teacher told her that he expected the average age of the finalists to be 17. Clearly an underdog, Allegra spends her entire summer practicing Mozart's Fourth Violin Concerto. She knows that she has to find some way to make her rendition of this piece mean something more than the notes on her sheet music, but this is easier said than done.

What I love most about this book is Allegra herself. She is such a rich, genuine character. The way this book is written causes us to spend most of our time listening to Allegra's thoughts. Therefore, we get to know Allegra very intimately. We watch her grow throughout the story and it's a beautiful thing to watch. She is very easy to relate to. She, like many other young girls, has a huge crush on a famous person, in her case it is Joel Smirnoff, the second violinist in the Juilliard Quartet. This is just one example of the many things that distinguishes Allegra as just a simple girl with great ambition.
Another thing that I love about this book is the role that music takes in it. Any musician would love this book simply because of Wolff's portrayal of music. To Allegra's family, music is essentially a way of life. To Allegra, music is her connection to her dead great-grandmother who died at Treblinka, a concentration camp in Poland. During her final performance, as she plays, she envisions her great-grandmother and feels one with her through the music. This conclusion is a truly beautiful moment. In my opinion it, is one of the most serene, most tranquil, and most heart-warming as well as heart-wrenching moments in any book I have ever read. It is simply beautiful.

I give The Mozart Season as a whole a 4 out of 5 daggers (the ending itself deserves 6 out of 5)

Musically yours,
Gabriel Gethin


The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman

The Other Side of the Island, by Allegra Goodman, is the story of a girl by the name of Honor. But her name is an anomaly, you see. Though she was born in the year H and Honor is a perfectly approved government name, the H is silent, so it sticks out. Her school isn’t worried, however. They know they’ll train her to change it, because what fun is life if you’re different than everybody else?

But Honor’s parents seem to think her name is okay. They dance and sing and laugh and read and draw, push limits, go on adventures, take midnight strolls to the forbidden ocean, betting on dark and serendipity. They even go so far as to have a second child, something rare and frowned upon. No, they seem to be just fine with Honor’s name.

Honor, herself, however, is a different story. After her family was relocated to one of Earth Mother’s controlled islands, she has been in a class with Helixes, Henriettas, Harrys and Harmonies. She’s not sure how she feels. On one hand, she lives for the forbidden excitements she and her family enjoy, but at the same time, she’s frustrated. Because really—why can’t her parents just obey Earth Mother and the Government? Why can’t they just be like everyone else? The last thing Honor would ever want would be to lose her parents, and she knows that if you’re too different, you might just disappear.

Though the book was rather predictable in places, The Other Side of the Island was surprisingly good. It was suspenseful with some nicely original aspects. The characters were relatable, and there were some quite cool notions about weather and religion. “Earth Mother” combined God and Mother Nature, and the religion was centered around her. Scientists had found a way to control the weather, so that Unpredictability could be avoided whenever possible.

I liked this book a lot, it was a pretty quick read—not too hard, along the same lines as a lot of other science fiction/distopia sort of novels, but with some parts that were truly new and quite interesting.

I would give it four out of five ridiculously evil and futuristic daggers! Twas a Very Good book, edging on great.

Bowing down to Earth Mother,


P.S – How coincidental that my name works! Awesome!


An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

When Colin Singleton, amateur anagrammer and noted child prodigy, was eight years old, he was kissed by a girl named Katherine. Three minutes later, she dumped him.

Nine years later, Colin has just been dumped by a girl named Katherine. For the nineteenth time. Seeing him devastated, Colin’s best friend, Hassan, pulls him out the door and into the car, on a road trip that eventually winds up in a small town called Gutshot, Tennessee. Colin and Hassan soon land a job with Hollis Wells, factory owner and lover of everything pink, and begin to hang out with her daughter Lindsey.

Seeking to get over Katherine XIX, as he refers to her, and to finally “matter,” Colin conceives the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, a mathematical formula for predicting the course of a relationship based on five personality traits of the people involved. Lindsey and Hassan offer their help and advice, and soon a road trip becomes an extended vacation in the middle of nowhere.

This book is a bundle of fun, funny, and fantabulous. Colin is a totally relatable character (if a bit pathetic at times.) It absolutely cracked me up. The book makes occasional attempts to be thought-provoking, and does not entirely succeed, but that doesn’t detract from its coolness. I give it four out of five daggers.

Anagrammatically yours,

Tay Darramont