Goodreads Choice Award/Nominee

Book Review: Illuminae

Illuminae
Author: 
Kaufman, Amie and Kristoff, Jay
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Illuminae is an enthralling mix of science fiction and thriller. Written as a case file and using many different formats (audio logs, transcribed security footage, and interviews are just a few), Illuminae has action, mystery, and romance to interest many teen readers, although its multimedia style may be jarring to some. Overall, an excellent book and the start of one of my favorite series to date.

Reviewer's Name: 
Locke

Book Review: Caliban's War

Caliban's War
Author: 
Corey, James S. A.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

One of the things I like about James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series is how these books focus on the crew of the Rocinante. Many hard sci-fi writers try to show how smart they are by making it obvious how much math they did to explain how their sci-fi universe works. While The Expanse certainly has these moments, they’re fit in between the human drama that follows James Holden and his crew. Trouble seems to follow them wherever they go, and in Caliban’s War, they’re pulled into a political conflict that spans the solar system.

I appreciate how an overarching plot with the protomolecule connects Leviathan Wakes to Caliban’s War. While the first book in the series took some time ramping up into having a cohesive collection of characters, Caliban’s War uses all four members of Rocinante’s crew in a new way that felt more interesting. Of course, this book also contains my favorite “character of the day” with Chrisjen Avasarala as the U.N. ambassador. Her calculated political ambitions were fun to watch as they unfolded, and she tried to keep on top of all the chaos that was happening.

Caliban’s War also benefits from plenty of action and tense moments. What could easily be confusing and hard to follow was well written and engaging. My heart was racing as these exciting sequences took the political drama and made it explode in a way that was both expected and fun to read. Ultimately, the emotional connection to the characters—both continuing from book one and exclusive to this book—is what made everything click for me in this novel. Granted, I would have liked a little more continuity between the two books by bringing over more characters from Leviathan Wakes. Still, sometimes a long-running series has to focus on bite-size stories instead of carrying a huge and unwieldy plot throughout.

An exciting, political, and action-filled hard sci-fi gem, I give Caliban’s War 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Stone Sky

The Stone Sky
Author: 
Jemisin, N. K.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I have to say I’m a bit disappointed with The Stone Sky. It took me some time to get used to the way the author wrote the Broken Earth trilogy, but by the end of the second book, The Obelisk Gate , I had bought into the premise. The fact that this book had a lot to live up to with the foreshadowing presented in the second book might be why I’m disappointed with the result. After all, I was looking forward to some epic moments involving the moon, which didn’t seem to materialize for me. Now that I’ve finished this trilogy, I’m starting to wonder if the reason it didn’t quite fully click for me was because I was reading it via audiobook. There seemed to be a lot that I missed that would leave me confused about who the characters were, what they were doing, and why they were doing it. Perhaps if I had dedicated time to focusing on these audiobooks instead of listening while I was doing other things, I would have liked the series more. As it stands though, I probably couldn’t tell you what the point of this book was without going back and rereading it.

Ultimately, the Broken Earth trilogy is well written. The language might be a little too poetic at times and the fantasy setting introduces a lot of terminology that was difficult to keep track of, but I can see the appeal of it. The magic system is truly unique, even if the explanation for its origins made less sense than if it was just an unexplainable magic force. I do appreciate that most of the loose ends were wrapped up and either explained or made into moot points by the series’ conclusion. And while the resolution of this trilogy felt a little cliché, at least it provided an ending that most would come to expect from this type of sub-genre.

A pretty good trilogy wrap-up that might need a second read-through, I give The Stone Sky 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Wishtree

Wishtree
Author: 
Applegate, Katherine
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Red is a tree. A red oak tree, to be precise. Red has helped and befriended many animals, and even a human! But as all trees know, it is forbidden to speak to them. That changes when a Muslim family moves in nextto Red. The next thing Red knows, a very bad message is carved into the wood. Red must decide whether it would be better to destroy the rule that trees have had for centuries, or to destroy a little girl’s hope.
I liked the way the author showed Red's thought process and Red's decision making. I also liked the names for the animals, especially the raccoons. The forgetful raccoon mom's name was Big You and her three kids were all named You. I think the humor added to the book so it was not all about hardship.

Reviewer's Name: 
Kelsey

Book Review: The Kiss of Deception

The Kiss of Deception
Author: 
Pearson, Mary E.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Lia is escaping from her future. Marrying the Prince of Dalbreck is not what she had in mind for the rest of her life. Fleeing Morrighan, Lia and her best friend, Pauline, rush to Terrivan. The undercover princess is at peace until two mysterious gentleman show up in her town. Little does she know one is an assassin, and another is none the than her betrothed. Lia finds out her escape isn't as discreet as she thought. The disorder she left behind is only getting worse.

I wholeheartedly enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down and found myself finishing it within days. Pearson has a perfect flow for the story and keeps you wondering what's next.

Reviewer's Name: 
Lilly

Book Review: The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
Author: 
Gemeinhart, Dan
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise is about a Girl named Coyote who travels around the country in a school bus with her dad, Rodeo. On their Journey, they meet lots of new people and they help people in need. I really liked this book because it was very funny and made me laugh a lot. I also liked that there were lots of different characters. Even though I did like this book a lot, I thought it was a bit slow paced. It was a very enjoyable and emotional book to read, and I am glad I read it. Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Lotus

Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone
Author: 
Adeyemi, Tomi
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Children of Blood and Bone takes place in Orisha, a place where magic used to thrive before a ruthless king came to power. The king was afraid of magic, so he killed the people who used it. The story follows a girl named Zelie who goes on a quest to restore magic in Orisha. I really enjoyed reading this book because there were lots of plot twists and it was very surprising. I also really liked the setting! The only thing I didn't like very much was that it was slow paced. This is one of my favorite books!

Reviewer's Name: 
Lotus

Book Review: We Are Okay

We Are Okay
Author: 
LaCour, Nina
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

We are ok is about a girl who recently lost a family member who wasn't as trustworthy as she thought. When Marin's gramps passes away, she realizes that he had made her forgotten about her deceased mother because he had more pictures, dreams, and memories than he had said. Marin, now a year older, is visited by her childhood friend. Throughout the visit, she gets memories of her life before her gramps died. I love this book. It had all my emotions mixed up and I couldn't put it down. This book is great for people that can handle mature topics and words. I rate this book 10/10.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mackenzie

Book Review: Transcendent Kingdom

Transcendent Kingdom
Author: 
Gyasi, Yaa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

There was no sophomore slump for author Yaa Gyasi, who lit the literary world ablaze with her searing debut novel, Homegoing (2016). That work of historical fiction was deeply personal and her exceptional contemporary follow-up Transcendent Kingdom (2020) draws upon her experiences growing up with Ghanaian parents in in northern Alabama. This powerful and emotionally raw novel centers on Giffy, a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the connections between depression and addiction. Her brother was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal, deeply religious mother is bedridden. Dad left long ago. Giffy hopes science will find the why behind the suffering. But she still hungers for her childhood faith and struggles to find a balance between religion and science, hope and despair, living and inertia. It’s a personal journey with a conclusion that will leave you with hope, if not a clear answer.

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

Book Review: The Guest List

The Guest List
Author: 
Foley, Lucy
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Those longing for an Agatha Christie-style yarn with red herrings that keep you guessing (incorrectly) will enjoy this mystery by Lucy Foley, author of The Hunting Party. This whodunit – by the end you may ask yourself who wouldn’t? – uses alternating points of views to reveal small, important details about each character. Those alternating chapters provide arguably understandable reasons to kill the eventual "victim," whose identity remains as murky until the end as the weather enveloping the isolated island off the Irish coast. Is the victim or murderer the Bridezilla? The reality TV star groom? The depressed bridesmaid? The jilted former lovers? Just how many of them are there? Or was it the jealous best friend? This modern tale evoking And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express, may make you wonder if Christie, if she were alive, would have considered revenge porn as a motive for murder.

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

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