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All Book Reviews

Kill the Farm Boy
Dawson, Delilah S. and Kevin Hearne
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

It took me a while to review this book because I couldn’t figure out exactly how to rate it. This novel is a pun filled fantasy adventure that pokes fun at the traditional fantasy quest. It involves magic, elves, a dark lord name Toby, sleeping maidens, a sand witch named Grinda, a talking goat named Gustave, fairies, a bunny bard named Argabella, a female warrior named Fia, a rogue name Poltro, and a harrowing danger filled quest to cure the dead-ness of a farm boy name Worstley, killed at the beginning of this book, that was destined to fulfill a great destiny …. or so we thought.

While at times this book was funny, I particularly enjoyed the details of how the world was described, for example when the enchanted castle and the maids were being described at the beginning of the book, particularly the last line. “There was also an abundance of portent swaddled about the place. Oodles of it. A surfeit, even. Something would go down there soon. But for now, the lady slept. And drooled a little, probably.” Or the dark lord’s constant obsession with cheese and crackers throughout the book.
Other times, I think the humor went over the top, which was not a particularly big selling point for me and leaves a somewhat sour taste in my mouth. For example, when our heroes arrive at the hut of the healer and Agrabella first wakes up after being healed. “In this case with her eyes shut, Argabella had to assume she was being licked across the face by a troll with gingivitis who’d recently partaken of fresh garlic and sardines and possibly eaten another, even sicker troll for breakfast. Her eyes burst open… She soon realized that this was because she was staring into someone’s extremely furry armpit” Or maybe it was the fact that books with tropes and puns are just not the type of books I am particularly drawn too or like. However, I do appreciate and like each of the character’s own inner dialogue as they wrestle with their feelings and other issues throughout their journey together. For example, when the warrior realizes she love’s the bunny bard, “She realized that even more than roses, even more than a proper set of armor, she wanted to be kind and generous and the whole range of happy adjectives to this truly unique woman for a long, long time.”

Overall I think this books was well written, and at times funny, it takes a traditional subject, fantasy quests, and turns it into something new entirely. While this book wasn’t for me particularly, I would recommend it for anyone who loves, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Princess Bride.
the movie Space Balls, or anything with wacky humor. This book comes out today so put a copy on your holds list! Thank you to Negalley and the publisher Del Rey for a free e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie M.
Genres:
Pensées
Pascal, Blaise
2 stars = Meh
Review:

While I do enjoy and appreciate the ease of which I can listen to an audiobook and absorb the content of a variety of books, there are always a few books that don’t translate well into the format. Sure, I might have my qualms about the narrator’s pronunciation, volume control, or other technical issues. However, this is the first book where the rating I’m giving applies explicitly to the audiobook version, and not necessarily to the book’s contents. The difference here is that the audiobook version of Pascal’s Pensées doesn’t allow the reader enough time to adequately absorb the content.

If I were to classify this book, I’d probably say it’s closer to a listing of complaints/observations that would work better on a multi-year “item-a-day” calendar than in an audiobook format. The majority of Pensées is a series of proverbs by Blaise Pascal, a name that most scientists will recognize. The fact that he so thoroughly analyzed the theology of the Bible and came to the conclusions that he did perhaps speaks volumes about scientific atheists today who have not done nearly as much research on their spiritual beliefs. There are plenty of gems of wisdom in this book; it’s just that the audiobook format doesn’t easily allow the reader to dwell on them for more than a moment.

Perhaps when I have a little more time to fully appreciate Pascal’s Pensées, I’ll sit down and read it. Fortunately, since it’s in the public domain, this book is free to read on Project Gutenberg. Until then, though, I can’t recommend people read the audiobook version of this text.
If I manage to physically read this book in the future, I’ll likely give it an adequate rating, but as it is right now, I only have the audiobook version to go off of.

A book of proverbs you should read instead of listen to, I give Pensées 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Skink No Surrender
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Richard's cousin, Malley, has always been rebellious. However, this time Richard is really worried about her. Malley ran off with some guy that she met online and the cops can't find her. Richard knows that he can find her so he embarkes on an adventure along with Skink, a moderately sane one-eyed wandering vigilante. Skink No Surrender is awesome. Complete with daunting storms, poisonous snakes, giant gators, flying bullets, and a supposedly extinct woodpecker. Skink No Surrender is full of twists and turns that makes it impossible to put down. I read this book in under two days and I highly recommend it for any middle schooler or high schooler that is looking for a great adventure story.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Every Day
Levithan, David
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Every day, by David Levithan, is about a boy who wakes up every morning in a different body, he knows he is himself, but he is also somebody else. Because of this lifestyle, the boy, who named himself A, has never had a relationship with anyone for more than a day. He knows that he must not get too involved in the life of the body he's inhabiting because he knows no relationship will last for him. One day, A wakes up in the body of someone named Justin. It would be easy for him to come up with an excuse to tell Justin's parents so that he won't have to go to school, but A feels up for a challenge. Once at school A meets Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon, and immediately realizes that this girl is not treated the way she deserves to be by Justin. Justin likes the idea of Rhiannon more than he actually likes her. Justin uses her as a way to feel accepted. A becomes instantly intrigued by Rhiannon and wants to give her one day. One day that she deserves with Justin. One day where Justin sees her true beauty. After the perfect day that "A as Justin" and Rhiannon share, A realizes that he's falling for Rhiannon. He knows the risk of telling her the truth but he feels that she deserves to know. Will Rhiannon believe him? Do they have a chance of being together? This book, Every day is very well-written and meaningful. It's a book that is like no other in so many ways. I would like to recommend this book to fans of romance novels, and dystopian-like books as well.

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P.
Genres:
If I Stay
Forman, Gayle
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Having seen the movie before reading the book, I didn't have very high hopes. However once I finally managed to read the book while on vacation, I was pleasantly surprised. I haven't read any other books that were quite like this one. It was easy to get attached to Mia, whether she was talking about her boyfriend, her family, or even her thoughts while she was in the hospital searching for her family and trying to decide if she wanted to stay or not. The entire thing was amazing and it was really a unique read for me, and I truly did enjoy the book. My only issue with the book was the last line, it was such a massive cliffhanger. Although, it did make me immedietely want to go out and buy the sequel.

Reviewer's Name: Brenna C.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Twain, Mark
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Huckleberry Finn is a rebel against school, church, and the respectable society that wants to civilize him. Therefore, after faking his own death, Huck embarkes on a raft journey down the Mississippi River along with Jim, a runaway slave. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel full of shenanigans, adventures, schemes, and pranks in addition to deep contemplation that gives some great advice. This adventure is truly a classic and I highly recommend it for any middle schooler or older since there is something in this book for all ages.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
Meyer, Stephanie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was great, I loved it! How would it feel to be a newborn vampire if
you weren't like Bella? No super self-control and changed only for the
purpose to destroy? Destroy others like you, to be the puppet, the pawn, to
be expendable? Bree was just an average girl, she was one of the dregs of
society. she was nobody special. but then Riley showed up. he took her to
'her'. After she was changed she joined the others, newborns like her as they
reek havoc on Seattle they learn what the where created for. Bree and Deigo
find out, only she survives, what will happen to her now?

Reviewer's Name: Anneka S.
Breaking Dawn
Meyer, Stephanie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This was one of the best books this year. It is full of action and twists that you never saw coming. As Edward and Bella find their love for one another they prepare to be married, they are happy. But the Volttri have something deadly in store as they find the Cullen's, and Bella as her newborn self, guilty of a crime that they never committed. as new joy and new danger lurk just around the corner how will they escape the false Rath of the Voltti? How will they do it without loosing anyone that they love?

Reviewer's Name: Anneka S.
Awards:
The Land of Forgotten Girls
Kelly, Erin Entrada
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a heart wrenching novel that tells the story of two sisters searching for hope in a town that seems empty of it. Soledad and her little sister, Ming, move to America from the Philippines with their father and step mother after the sister's mother dies. When Sol and Ming's father goes to a wedding in the Philippines and never comes back, the kids are left with their horrible stepmother, who smokes cigar's in the house and physically and mentally abuses the siblings. Sol is determined to continue to fill her little sister's head with dreams and stories, like their mother used to do, to make sure Ming always has something to believe in. In this beautifully written coming of age story, Erin Entanda Kelly shows that stories can mean so much more than you think, you can find friends in the most unlikely times and places, and that family will always be with you even in the worst times and places.

Reviewer's Name: Anna C.
Awards:
Genres:
Uglies
Westerfeld, Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In the distant future, a distopian world is thriving. When kids turn 16, they can endure the operation, a surgical procedure that fixes every physical flaw and turns them from 'ugly' to 'pretty'. Society has brainwashed people into thinking that any imperfection is ugly, so it separates uglies from pretties. Tally is about to turn 16, and can't wait. She meets Shay, another 15 year old, but Shay is less eager. She claims that there is a hidden society outside of the city, deep in the wilderness, called the Smoke. Shay leaves Tally riddled directions to this place, and disappears. Tally is then recruited to hunt down Shay, betray her and the Smoke, and then turn pretty herself. With nothing but her appearance on the line, Tally follows Shay's riddle and infiltrates the Smoke. After a few weeks, she becomes acclimated with the lifestyle, and begins to feel trusted. She loves it there, and decides to destroy the pendant that Special Circumstances gave her, which she would activate when the time came. So, this book was pretty good. I loved the hidden backstories and dystopian futures, but other than that...? The people/characters I found to be unrealistic and not very smart. Some of the mistakes and choices Tally made had me slapping my face. And then there was the problem of her being willing to rat out hundreds of people at the Smoke for a chance to look 'pretty'.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Lee, Mackenzi
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This is one of those books you could crank through in a day. The first third was hilarious, and kept me hooked throughout the following two thirds, which, admittedly, were boring by contrast. To be honest, this book was a light and fluffy book you read just to keep you occupied, not to get to you to think or be creative. If any of you have read 'The Upside of Unrequited', the first third was so similar to that. But then the author attempted to make it an action book with a romantic twist, and I gagged. Essentially, the son of an English lord, Monty, is in love with his best friend, Percy. Throughout the entire book, he's giggling over how cute/handsome he is, but worrying about how Percy, his oppressing father, and upright and historic English society will handle a bisexual lord, so he doesn't come out. But Monty, Percy, and Monty's sister must complete a tour around Europe for a year. Soon they are thrown off course when Monty steals a precious treasure from the room of another lord when Monty is making out with some pretty lady he picked up at a party. (Another thing that bugged me: Monty was constantly drowning his feelings by getting wasted/picking up gorgeous people at parties). And this was when the book went downhill. Monty is such an annoyingly flawed character, which is the author's way of proving he's 'only human'. Even though he's falling for Percy, when Percy kisses him, he pretends he doesn't care as a way to hide his true feelings and protect himself. He also sneaks out and gets drunk on a regular basis, and when he
can't get wasted, he complains. Then the author attempted to make the book adventurous and thrilling, but it was just boring. Once Monty stole the treasure from someone's room, he quickly realises that he had stolen the 'key' to a tomb in a sinking island that holds a 'heart' that, when transplanted into a human body, allows the human to neither live nor die. Basically, they're brain dead; not medically dead, but no brain activity. It was okay, and not terrible. At points I wanted to reach through the book, grab Monty, shake him, and scream, "Stop it!" into his ear. I don't recommend it, but if you're going on vacation or a long plane ride, this book is good for you not having to actually think about what you're reading.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Fairest
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book "Fairest" by Marissa Meyer is actually a prequel to "The Lunar Chronicles," but (to me) is meant to be read AFTER reading the main four books. This book is all about Queen Levana, the main antagonist of "The Lunar Chronicles." The story shows the reader all the reasons why she is the way she is, and shows us the events that happened to start the series. "Fairest" is about The Evil Queen, who brought the most grief to the "princesses" of the first four books.

Overall, the book is a very good read after reading the main four books. Reading the book before may be confusing. The characterization of Queen Levana is truly amazing, as more often than not, antagonists are not given enough character, and are not explained well. Some aspects of the story are predictable if you have already read the series, but not all scenes are. This book answers many questions about Queen Levana, and is definitely worth the read.

*Do note that "Fairest" was published before "Winter" and that you can read all of the side books in whatever order you like.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Paige P.
Winter
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

As a continuation and last book from "The Lunar Chronicles," "Winter" by Marissa Meyer is truly just as good as the past three books in the series.
This book is another re-imagining of the old fairy tale Snow White, but is written in such a way that it is barely recognize that aspect unless you knew before. Winter, the protagonist of this story, is a lunar who refuses to use her naturally gifted powers, and it is slowly driving her crazy. Many consider her to be the most beautiful lunar there is. As the crazy daughter of the queen, she allowed to live. Well, that's as long as nobody likes her more than the queen.

Overall, the story is very well written, and a great last book. The books answers many unsolved mysteries, and ties up everything nicely. The characters are once again very well characterized, and the ending is as enjoyable as an ending to get. All chapters continue to move the plot, and there aren't too many extra ideas. Truly a great end to "The Lunar Chronicles," which is worth the read.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Paige P.
Cress
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book "Cress" by Marissa Meyer is a big twist of the fairy tale "Rapunzel," where the character Cress Moon Darnel is introduced in a remote satellite that she has lived in for many years of her life. Cress has not left for years, and kept herself sane by programming her own voice into an AI. When she is contacted by Cinder and her crew, she sees not just hope, but also a very attractive pilot named Carswell Thorne. This encounter with Linh Cinder begins Cress' journey to Earth, and her pursuit of saving the other Lunars of the world.

This book is a great read for those who enjoy fantasy, science fiction, action, and well balanced romance. The book, just like its predecessors, is excellently written. The amount of characters have increased significantly since the first book in "The Lunar Chronicles," yet each character from before has grown, and the new characters are just as in-depth. The conflicts are rising, and the stakes are growing higher and higher. As the book pushes the protagonists to the main antagonist, the plot and characters never weaken. Overall, the book was relatively unpredictable, and had many turns that just added to the story. Like in the other books, all of the characters had relatable traits and conflicts, which continued to make the story better.
"Cress" is truly one of the best books for characters and creativity, and continuing "The Lunar Chronicles."

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Paige P.
Scarlet
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book "Scarlet" by Marissa Meyer is a twist of "Little Red Riding Hood," where the main character, Scarlet Benoit, lived with her grandmother until her grandmother disappears. While the police force have given up the search for Scarlet's grandmother, Scarlet is determined to find her, believing that her grandmother was kidnapped rather than ran away. She meets a man named Wolf at work, where her living situation is turned upside down after she pronounces her belief that Linh Cinder was innocent. The road is long and hard, but Scarlet WILL find her grandmother by any means possible.

This book is an amazing read for those who interest in fantasy, a mix of science fiction, action, and romance. Just like the first book "Cinder," "Scarlet" is just as amazingly written as its predecessor. As part of "The Lunar Chronicles," this book continues to show the readers more about the world, and begins showing the secrets of the main characters and antagonist.

The books is exceptional with its characters, chapters, and conflicts. It makes sure that all action is balanced and realistic. Some parts of the story were predictable, such as the romance, but the obstacles the couple faces, along with the conflicts with everyone else are unpredictable enough to make the story interesting. The main characters are relatable, yet so unique. This story, along with the rest of the series, is one of the best books for excellent fantasy and storytelling.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Paige P.
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Cinder" is a twist of the old fairy tale "Cinderella," where the main character, Cinder, has a step-mother, two sisters, and cyborg parts attached to her body (much to the citizens of New Bejing's disgust). Cinder is a mechanic who does work for her step-mother along with her companion Iko, and she has dreams of leaving her step-mother's home, though she stays for her sister Peony.

Cinder meets the prince of New Beijing, Prince Kaito. She finds that Kai is a very attractive person, just as everyone in the city says, but also finds her attention turned toward unfortunate event after unfortunate event. Her world changes when her sister contracts the deadly disease, letumosis.

Overall, this book is truly a wonderful book for both romance and action. While the plot is a twist of the story "Cinderella," Marissa Meyer does an excellent job of making the idea extremely unique to the point that the book hardly seems like a twist of Cinderella. The amount of action; internal and external conflicts; and in-depth relationships are written in an exciting way that makes every chapter worth reading. Since this is the first book in "The Lunar Chronicles," "Cinder" sets up the main conflicts and first main characters for the rest of the series exceptionally well. While the main protagonists are very likable and relatable, the main antagonist is truly twisted and very well written with the knowledge that is given in the first book. The book was rarely predictable, and is an amazing piece of fiction.

This book, along with the rest of the series, is one of the best books for both great characters and a unique story idea.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Paige P.
Code of Honor
Gratz, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Kamran and Darius Smith made a code of honor when they were kids; be
the bravest of, the brave strongest of the strong ,help the helpless, kill
all monsters. But when Darius graduates at west point, and then joins the
army, he is captured by the Al Qaeda and forced to make public broadcasts
about threats from the terrorist group. After that happened Kamran is taken
to a government facility and decides to prove that Darius is innocent. He
gets the help he needs from Ex-special forces officer Dane Redmond, Aaliya
sayid, Jimmy Doran ,and Mickey Hagan. Together they help Kamran rescue
Darius, but wait, one of someone might be a traitor to the team.

Reviewer's Name: Brendan M.
Awards:
Code of Honor
Gratz, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Kamran and Darius Smith made a code of honor when they were kids; be the bravest of, the brave strongest of the strong ,help the helpless, kill all monsters. But when Darius graduates at west point, and then joins the army, he is captured by the al qaeda and forced to make public broadcasts about threats from the terrorist group. After that happened Kamran is taken to a government facility and decides to prove that Darius is innocent. He gets the help he needs from Ex-special forces officer Dane Redmond, Aaliya sayid, Jimmy Doran ,and Mickey Hagan. Together they help Kamran rescue Darius, but wait, one of someone might be a traitor to the team.

Reviewer's Name: Brendan M.
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Animal Farm is a dystopian novel about a farm overrun by the farm animals. The animals revolt and create their own hierarchy, which poses an overarching metaphor for humanity. Like many of Orwell’s books, this book exposes the flaws of mankind in an allegorical manner. I chose this book for its dystopian nature, and it did not disappoint. It is artful in its satire, and Orwell takes a clear stance on tyranny. This is among the best dystopian books I have read.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J
This Present Darkness
Peretti, Frank
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Back in high school, I had to read this book as part of my Religions class and thought it was pretty good. As I have been preparing for writing The Slumberealm Gambit, I decided to give This Present Darkness another read so I could recall how Frank E. Peretti combined the fantastical spirit world with the real world. For a book written in 1986, it’s aged surprisingly well, even if the demise of the newspaper and the rise of constant contact via cell phones would make this kind of book set in modern times a hard sell. Even so, I honestly wouldn’t mind if someone adapted this book into a movie, as the plot is thrilling and the action is top-notch.

Strangely enough, one of my qualms with this book is with its formatting and proofreading. There were a few missed typos, and the right-align text didn’t seem as professional as I would have hoped a widely-printed book would be. Regarding content, though, I wonder if the preacher side plot could have either been cut or enhanced so that it would have had the same intensity/focus as the newspaper main plot. Still, by the end of the book, the exciting conclusion is a result of all the pieces being put in place during the somewhat long buildup.

Some people may debate whether angels and demons are real, but this book certainly gives a fantastical look behind the curtain and imagines these beings in elaborate detail. The angels are all quietly patient, while the demons are gruesome and horrifying. The mixture of fantasy imagery and real-world situations is something I hope to soon accomplish in my own writing style, and this book merely reinforced how awesome it was when I read it for the first time more than a decade ago.

An action-filled and thrilling look behind the spiritual curtain, I give This Present Darkness 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin

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