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All Book Reviews

Book Review: Brave New World
Huxley, Aldous
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One of the first dystopian novels, Brave New World follows an outsider as he tries to navigate the workings of a society that has been developed into a utopia by using conditioning and genetic modification. Originally excited to visit this 'brave new world', Savage becomes increasingly distraught by the lack of humanity exhibited by its inhabitants.

I liked this book better than 1984, mostly because 1984 had some 'preachy' sections and this one had fewer and had a more interesting plot line to me. While 1984 was violent, Brave New World was promiscuous. Both books eschewed solitude for constant interaction, 1984 being involuntary, Brave New World, voluntary. Both books are worth reading.

One reason Brave New World is fascinating is because of the way they control the birth and childhood of the population by conditioning and genetics. Copulation is as common as a handshake and soma restores all to rights. All this was written in the 30s! Aldous Huxley is the man!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book "Wonder" is about a boy with face abnormalities named August who goes to public school for the first time as a middle school student. While going to school he makes friends, enemies, and faces hardships most students don't face. The source of his bullying throughout the year is Julian. Auggie deals with Julian and his gang with his own new friends until something unexpected happens.

I picked this book because the description seemed interesting and "Wonder" is a battle book. I enjoyed the deep meaningful lesson that the book teaches. There is actually not a part I did not enjoy. "Wonder" was not at all predictable. I could relate to August because likes Star Wars and I do too. It is one of the best books I have read this year. I highly recommend reading "Wonder" for a heartwarming story with many ups and downs.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Genres:
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
Riordan, Rick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The start of a fantastic series. I compare it to Harry Potter with it's likable characters, journeys, and magic. In this universe all the Greek gods and stories are real. If you like fantasy you will most likely love this book. It focuses around the main character Percy and his journey when he learns he is a demi-god. He goes on a journey meeting other demi-gods like Annabeth. Another friend he makes is Grover a half goat, half man satire. Percy must stop a war between the powerful Greek gods before it too late.

Reviewer's Name: Amelia W.
Genres:
Rise of the Evening Star
Mull, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Well, we're back to join Seth and Kendra on another adventure as they search for the hidden artifact at Fablehaven! I enjoyed this book more than first one to be honest. It has plenty of cliffhangers and exciting moments. You'll love it if you love Harry Potter!

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey
Genres:
Fablehaven
Mull, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is definitely one of my favorite book series. I was in a phase where I would only read Harry Potter (they're so good tho!) and I had read the Harry Potter series 7 times because I didn't want to read anything else until I received this book for my birthday this year. Its an exciting adventure and if you like fantasy, action, and adventure then this is a series for you! After reading the first book of the series, you will want to move on to reading the next book in the series (Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star). Have fun joining Seth and Kendra in this amazing book!

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey S.
Awards:
Genres:
The Wizards of Once
Cowell, Cressida
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Wizards of Once" follows the story of a young wizard and a young warrior princess in a world where magic is forbidden -- and a great adventure ensues. I loved this book. Cressida Cowell's writing style is delightfully charming and lighthearted. Xar and Wish were wonderful protagonists that you could easily root for. This story pulls you in from the very first page and takes you off on an amazing journey. The only negative thing I can think of to add is that sometimes the descriptions got a little lengthy -- but, for those who love well-described settings and characters, this will only add to the charm. I also highly recommend the audiobook, narrated by David Tennant, that was equally delightful. If I could give this book more stars, I definitely would!

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Genres:
Nowhere But Home
Palmer, Liza
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Chef Queenie Wake can't keep a job because of her abrasive personality. Finally, she has no where to go but back to the small Texas town where her mother's reputation as a thieving, loose woman made life miserable for her and her sister. Queenie takes a job no one wants, cooking the last meal for death row inmates. Her search for making the inmates' last meal the perfect memory of the happiest time of their lives changes Queenie. She learns the importance of forgiveness, family and love. The story will make you cry and perhaps make you think differently about things that you thought were straight forward. It's a lovely book.

Reviewer's Name: Susan
Awards:
Genres:
Norse Mythology
Gaiman, Neil
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In his book "Norse Mythology", author Neil Gaiman retells the stories of Norse myth with incredible wit. He renews classic characters such as Thor and Odin with personality and charm. Gaiman updates the tales for modern times to help bring their magic to a new audience. I immensely enjoyed this book -- every story was captivating and fresh -- every character was wonderfully well-written -- and I loved the whimsical writing style. I honestly have nothing negative to say about this book -- except that, perhaps, it was too short. I simply wanted even more! If you love mythology, definitely pick up this book. I promise you -- you will not regret it!

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Genres:
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Chambers, Becky
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One of the biggest qualms I have with a lot of modern science fiction is that it’s not nearly imaginative enough. I believe most of this stems from the fact that modern sci-fi authors were influenced by franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars, where even the aliens are basically humanoids with different skin color. In The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, author Becky Chambers takes a great leap forward for sci-fi by exploring what it would be like to work on a spaceship with a variety of different species. Needless to say, there are plenty of “cultural” adaptations that one would need to make in such a situation.

Unfortunately, because the characters are so interesting, the main plot takes a back seat for the majority of the book. Instead, the reader is treated to a series of almost “episodic” moments between the crew that act as excellent exposition, but take up most of the space of the book due to the size of the crew. Aside from that, there were a few crew members that initially didn’t stand out, and it took me a while to realize they were two different people. I also can see how Kizzy could come across as “cute and energetic,” but I found her mostly to be childish, obnoxious, and annoying (she got on my introvert nerves).

In the end, the inclusion of lots of aliens with different cultures allowed for a simple way to include more non-traditional relationships in the book as well. With plenty of LGBTQ+ referenced in this book, none of it came off as judgmental, but it will still be a little jarring for people who aren’t used to reading books with these themes included in them. Still, the heart of science fiction is exploring the new and unknown, which this book does excellently. Fans of Firefly will probably be the most satisfied with this series, as the eclectic crew presented here seems to mirror that show’s charm and personality.

A sci-fi book that finally includes aliens that aren’t so human, I give The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
What If?
Seeger, Laura Vaccaro
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Three separate scenarios are show to illustrate what happens when a boy kicks a beach ball into the ocean. This story, told mostly through the pictures, examines the possibilities and encourages imagination and language.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Awards:
Go Sleep in Your Own Bed!
Fleming, Candace
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It’s bedtime on the farm. When pig goes to his sty, he finds cow there and tells him to “Go sleep in your own bed!” This sets off a chain reaction as animals are relocated to their own beds. The simple repetitive text encourages children to “read” along and the pictures are delightful

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Math & Magic in Wonderland
Mohr, Lilac
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Do you like math & logic puzzles? If so, you can solve puzzles along with twins, Lulu and Elizabeth. They’re on a grand math adventure inspired by Lewis Carroll’s poetry. Do you have the ability to solve the puzzles and outwit the Bandersnatch? Check out this book and find out.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Stay! A Top Dog Story
Latimer, Alex
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ben loves his dog, Buster, but has to leave him with Grampa when he goes on vacation. He remembers and writes down all sorts of instructions for Grampa. As he remembers more things, he writes postcards from vacation. Eventually, he remembers what he forgot, but it is too late. Grampa & Buster are already on the way to the post office. Read what happens as Buster learns how to behave – at least most of the time.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Cover Image
Revis, Beth
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Nedra wants nothing more than to become a medical alchemist (think magical doctor). When the opportunity arises for her to spend one year at the best alchemical school in the country, she jumps at it, even though she knows it means leaving her twin sister and her parents – perhaps forever. Nedra quickly jumps to the top of her class, but when a plague breaks out and starts killing commoners, Nedra finds herself out of the classroom and into the hospital. As she studies the plague, she realizes that it might not be entirely natural. Anyone around her could be responsible for its rise, even those that she trusts the most and she turns to a forbidden form of alchemy, necromancy, to try to find the answers.

The book is narrated by two characters, Grey and Nedra. Nedra was an enthralling character. The book follows her as circumstances get progressively more dire and she does what she has to do to survive and keep her twin sister alive. Her inevitable descent into darkness felt earned and real. Grey is Nedra’s classmate and love interest, and I didn’t mention him in the synopsis because he was entirely unnecessary to the book. I think he just served to give an outsider’s perspective on Nedra, but his chapters read as wholly superfluous to me. Perhaps he’ll have more of a role in the sequel?

The alchemy and necromancy themselves were quite cool, aside from the cruelty to rats. The cruelty is addressed and makes sense (one could argue that we use lab mice in a similar fashion), but might be upsetting to animal lovers. The first part of the book, while not fast paced, was still fun to read as we got to hang out with Nedra quite a bit in the hospital and learn about her craft and motivations. As she experiments more with necromancy, the book gets twisty and dark, and I really enjoyed the ending. There are also some fun political machinations and a revolution brewing in the background, all of which add to the immediacy of later plot points.

If you enjoyed a good villain origin story, such as Marie Lu’s The Young Elites, Tamora Pierce’s Tempests and Slaughter or the TV show Breaking Bad, you should give this book a read. I enjoyed it, and I think I’ll like the sequel even more when it comes out in a year or so. 3 stars.

Thanks to Razorbill and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Give the Dark My Love will be available for purchase on 25 September, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Where the Watermelons Grow
Baldwin, Cindy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Rules for reading:

1) Never ever buy a book. The library has thousands for free.
2) Never ever write in a book, especially if you followed rule 1.
3. Never let more than 5 days pass without reading more of your current book.
Stories don't feel slow if you read them quickly.

Where the Watermelons Grow broke all my rules.

When it finally arrived in the mail, I was very very tempted to devour it all in one night. However, it only took a few pages for me to see that this book needed to be a whole different experience. Like Della, my mama suffers from mental illness. I was 20 instead of 12 when my mama's meds suddenly and tremendously stopped working, and I felt just like Della-- wondering why daddy couldn't take care of it, thinking that I was old enough now that I could fix it if I worked hard enough, and wondering in what ways I had caused or contributed to breaking my mother.

So many times I had to put Watermelons down for a few days (even weeks) to just soak up all my thoughts about a certain chapter or section. It also gave the story more weight to kind of experience it in real time instead of having everything resolve by the end of my week.

One passage that struck me the most was where Della's congregation notices Mama isn't at church and are asking Daddy if he needs any help, but he just sheepishly thanks them for their generosity and assures them everything is fine while Della's mind replays all the things that were not fine about Mama that week and she can't believe Daddy thinks it's fine. I've lived that scene so many times about my mama, and in my adult life when so much is not going great. It's not that help isnt necessary, but more that you dont even know what kind of help to ask for, or if it even exists.

Through it all, Della learns that she has many other women in her life to help mother her when Mama isn't at her best. I know my mom kind of resented my sister and I having additional role models because she didn't want to be replaced, but I don't know how we would have gotten by without having such a community of women willing to take loose chicks under their wing from time to time.

One last thing, I'm a little jealous that Della made peace with her situation at 12. It's a long road, and maybe I haven't mastered it yet either, but it would have been good to have this kind of assurance at 12. ;)

Reviewer's Name: Natalie M.
Genres:
Hazelet's Journal
Hazelet, George Cheever
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This review is really about a spread of books I found or was able to access through PPLD. After an enjoyable visit to Skagway, AK, I became interested in Klondike Gold Rush history. Through the PPLD catalog and an interlibrary loan I accessed: Hazelet's Journal by George Cheever Hazelet: If you enjoy history from original sources, this book will draw you in as the author writes honestly about a business failure that led him to seek gold in Alaska. The arduous travels searching for gold are documented both by journal and amazing photographs. It is a slow read for someone who enjoys more of a "story." Although Cheever fails in the gold rush, as well, the stage was set for eventual successes that were instrumental in Alaska frontier development.

Journey (fiction) by James Michener: A quick read that will be more enjoyable to the reader looking for a story within the historical background of the gold rush. Four Englishmen and an Irishman push their way across Canada to Dawson City, fulfilling the image of the phrase "Mad dogs and Englishmen."

Gold! The Klondike Adventure by Delia Ray: Young Adult book that provides an easy-to-read purview with photographs of the rush, perils, commercialism, and subculture that arose between Skagway and Dawson City. Prospectors and merchants alike sought riches on the Alaskan frontier within a very short timeframe: 1897-1900.

Klondike Fever by Pierre Berton: Subtitled The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush, this book provides an exhaustive and interesting read about the gold rush from many different angles. This book was accessed through an interlibrary loan. However, the book was so old it was not pleasant to read so I am hoping PPLD will purchase a new edition. It is a very good book!

Reviewer's Name: Rita
Book Review: The Romantics
Konen, Leah
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Cute book about love, told from the perspective of Love. I liked the idea behind it, having Love narrate the story. I'm not the target audience, but I enjoyed it. Teens that are into rom-coms will enjoy it even more.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
The Tales of Beedle the Bard
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"The Tales of Beedle the Bard" is a collection of bedtime stories from the Wizarding World, with commentary from Albus Dumbledore in between. This book was amazing! I loved getting a new perspective of the Wizarding World, even after the end of the Harry Potter series. I also enjoyed getting to read the stories that were mentioned in the series, such as Babbitty Rabbitty and the Cackling Stump. It is like a little taste of Hogwarts that will make you homesick. Each story is captivating and full of J.K. Rowling's trademark wit.
I would recommend this to people who love Harry Potter and want to return to the Wizarding World one more time.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Illusionarium
Dixon, Heather
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In an alternative version of 1800s England, Jonathan and his scientist father are tasked with ending a deadly disease that has swept the land and infected thousands -- including the Queen herself. Their research is aided by a strange substance known as fantillium -- which allows the user to create anything before their eyes -- but when Jonathan discovers a world beyond theirs, fueled by fantillium, things take a turn for the worse....
This book hooked me from the start. I was instantly pulled into this interesting world and couldn't put it down for two hundred pages.
Unfortunately, around the two hundred page mark was when it began to slightly lose my interest. The plot began to take a slightly weird turn that I didn't know if I liked. Thankfully, things picked up from there. The characters were complex and well crafted -- I especially thought Lockwood (an anti-hero-like character in the book) was the most interesting. The world-building was fantastic and multi-layered. I would recommend this book to fans of "Harry Potter" for its imaginative magical world. An excellent read.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, Scott F.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

The classic tale of "The Great Gatsby" follows Nick Carraway, a newcomer to the city, who discovers the lavish and intoxicating life of Jay Gatsby, his next door neighbor. Nick soon becomes entangled in a net of secrets and deception that involves his friends Daisy Buchanan and her husband Tom. After hearing so many incredible things about "The Great Gatsby", I came into the story with high expectations. Unfortunately, they were not really met. While the story is undeniably powerful, it lacks in some areas. I found all the characters extremely unlikable. There was no one to really root for. In addition, there were parts of the story that seemed to drag on for far too long. I found myself asking, "When is something going to happen?" at several points. All in all, I didn't hate this story, but it definitely wasn't my favorite classic to read. Grade 12.

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Awards:

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