All Book Reviews

The Crossover
Alexander, Kwame
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This phenomenon of a book has great detail and a mix of drama, sadness, and love. Kwame Alexander has really proven his expertise in his book "Crossover." This book is a great source of human literature for all ages. This book was "Cross" of drama, brotherly love, and loss. The recipe for a great book.

Reviewer's Name: Haegan
Once Upon a River
Setterfield, Diane
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I know by now there isn’t much that hasn’t been said about Diane Setterfield’s latest offering, Once Upon a River, but I want to add my two sense. There is a reason why Setterfield’s beautiful haunting stories have touched millions since she first came out with The Thirteenth Tale, several years ago. The simple reason is, her books use the art of story as a medium to express to the heart, truths that words alone have not always been able to accomplish. Stories have a way of creeping up on you and taking root in the heart of the reader by the author being able to take everyday experiences and ideas, such as love, loss, and beauty and bring them to an emotional level, making them more real. And sometimes, a story, to fully germinate, takes time and patience; and knowing not only the characters, but its environment and history intimately. And that’s ok, it makes reading them, when they are finally available, that much more satisfying.

That is why I am such a fan of Setterfield’s works! She has a way of enveloping her characters in the power of story, and produces such a strong relationship between the characters in her stories and their environment! And Once Upon a River is no different. It uses the medium of story to forge a relationship between the environment of the Thames river and the community living on its banks, to weave a tale that strongly evokes the searing pain of loss, the beauty of love, and the hope of reunion.

The premise is simple. One wintery night a man, stumbles into a local tavern of a small English town on the river Thames, with a mute girl, who at first appears dead. What follows from that incident is a wild, haunting story that is weaved day in and day out, and changes and flows like the Thames river it is set upon. As the girl, appears mute, the mystery as to where she came from deepens, as several villagers claim her as their own missing daughter, or sister. The characters include every villager and every villager is included in this story. As the tale develops, it is clear how her arrival builds up hope in some, and compounds the searing loss for others, but the truth, later revealed, is not so simple.

Filled with haunting prose, drawing upon local and international folklore, strong character development, from the most minor character to the most central, and a beautiful story of love, loss, and reunion; Once Upon a River is a great feat in modern storytelling. Part mystery, part fairytale, and part legend. If you love any or all of these elements, you need to pick up this beautiful tale today! Thank you to the publishers and #netgalley for my DRC for review!

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie
Awards:
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree
Bernstrom, Daniel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Talk books are fun and easy to use. Great for literacy!

Reviewer's Name: Aisha
The Warded Man
Brett, Peter
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER***

For anyone who thinks that fantasy is a childish genre, The Warded Man shows that it can have very adult themes. While this adds an element of realism by including sex and violence, it also means that the intended audience for this book should be mature enough to be able to pay attention. Unfortunately, this
book takes a repetitive approach with its character arcs, almost as if writing for children who need the point constantly driven home. In the end, I’m mostly just disappointed at what this book could have been instead of what it was.

I’m not sure if there’s a minimum page count/word count for fantasy books, but The Warded Man seems to be an interesting novella, padded out with tons of unnecessary backstory—or at least backstory that could be covered in a relevant line or paragraph when needed. I did like the concept and the magical system in this book. Heck, I thought the naming scheme for the minor characters was also quite brilliant. I just can’t bring myself to suggest that people slog through over 450 pages of story that could have easily been covered in 150.

If you are interested in a somewhat original fantasy story, you can literally pick up the book at the beginning of Part 3 and read to the end, and you won’t miss much (if anything, you won't get some establishing details). This was also exacerbated by the fact that at least one of these characters didn’t have an interesting story until Part 3, so it was a bit annoying to have to jump over to his story when I’d much rather read about the other two characters. As it’s written right now, many of the characters’ motivations are repeatedly brought up in similar situations, so all the first part of the book does is delay these three characters’ inevitable meeting.

A great concept for a novella with a ton of backstory tacked on the front, I give The Warded Man 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
Genres:
Clockwork Angel
Clare, Cassandra
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Clockwork Angel follows Tessa Gray, a 16 year old girl from America, on her journey to England to meet her brother, where she is subsequently kidnapped by the Dark Sisters. This is her introduction to the Shadow World, a world where vampires, werewolves, warlocks, faeries, and Shadowhunters live just out of sight of mundanes, who are people without a magical background. It takes place in Victorian England, where Tessa meets a variety of interesting people. These people include the vampire Camille Belcourt, the warlock Magnus Bane, and many Shadowhunters such as Will and Jem. There are battles, escapes, and a pinch of romance. Recommended for ages 14 and up. I have read this book many times, and it is only the beginning of a much bigger universe.
Discovery lies behind every turn of the page. I love this book because of my connection with Tessa, whose love for books connects so deeply with my own.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Settare R
Killing the SS
O'Reilly, Bill, Dugard, Martin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard are known for writing some fantastic historical novels, and Killing the SS upholds that idea. It is the latest installment in O'Reilly and Dugard's Killing series. This novel tells the story of the global postwar hunt for Nazi war criminals and how they were brought to justice, or how they escaped altogether. The big four written about were Josef Mengele, known as the Angel of Death, who was the physician at Auschwitz and performed horrific medical experiments on the prisoners; Adolf Eichmann, charged with managing the mass deportation of millions of Jews to death camps; Martin Bormann, who was in charge of legislation and domestic matters regarding Nazi Germany; and Klaus Barbie, who was known as the Butcher of Lyon due to the fact that he personally tortured and killed thousands of Gestapo prisoners in Lyon, France. The book itself is a fantastic read, as it is suspenseful, engaging, and is the history buff's dream. I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves history, or anyone who is a fan of the Killing series.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:
The Stranger
Camus, Albert
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Albert Camus was a French philosopher and author who gave rise to the idea known as absurdism, the idea that humans live in a meaningless, chaotic universe. His novel, The Stranger, reflects this idea quite well. The novel is about a man named Mersault who, after his mother's death, murders an Arabic man on a beach and is sentenced to death.

Throughout the novel, Mersault is quite passive to the things around him; to his mother's death, to him shooting the Arab, and to his death sentence. This suggests the idea of absurdism: why should he protest to what is happening when he will one day die? While I like the message and the ideas the book puts forward, the writing can be a big lackluster. For example, the first half of the the novel is quite boring and moves at a snail's pace, which made it hard for me to remain interested. Thankfully, the book is quite short so it's not that big of an issue. I would recommend this novel to fans of philosophy or like novels about existentialism.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
The Hero of Ages
Sanderson, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Brandon Sanderson has done it again. The first two novels in this series were already amazing in their own right, but the finale novel of the trilogy is by far the best. The story has once again been improved, with Vin and the crew battling against a literal god, Ruin, who hears and sees everything they do or say. If they do not conquer over him, he will destroy the world. Aside from the main, overarching plot, there are also several smaller side plots that are all intriguing and exciting. Along the way there are several plot twists and epic moments that keep the reader guessing and hungry for more.

The ending of the novel is quite sad, but provides a satisfying conclusion to one of the best fantasy trilogies ever. I would recommend this to anyone who has read the first two novels.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
Genres:
Well of Ascension
Sanderson, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Where Mistborn told a tale of political intrigue, revolution and overthrowing a dictator, the second novel in the Mistborn series, The Well of Ascension, builds upon an already enthralling first book. This novel supplies the reader with a bigger, more intriguing, more grandiose story, more suspense, and more action than before. Brandon Sanderson has done an incredible job with fleshing out each character in a unique way, and creating an amazing story. The story itself follows Vin, Elend, and the rest of their crew as they attempt to find the Well of Ascension, which is said holds the power required to stop the world from being destroyed. The ending this book builds up to is truly unexpected, and was a brilliant plot twist by Sanderson. I would highly recommend this book if you have read Mistborn.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
Genres:
At the Mountains of Madness
Lovecraft, H. P.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

H.P. Lovecraft is commonly known as one of the titans of horror, one of the pioneers of the genre who influenced people such as Stephen King, and has even inspired several video games, such as Bloodborne. At the Mountains of Madness is considered Lovecraft's magnum opus, his best work to date. It is a novella telling the story of a small group of geologists, aviators, and explorers who travel to Antarctica in search of unique rock specimens. While there, however, they encounter several horrors, including unearthing ancient specimens known as Old Ones, a decadent, purely weird city built by the Old Ones themselves, and even giant albino penguins. This novella is truly horrifying, as the suspense Lovecraft is able to build through usage of the setting is gripping. If one is looking to begin reading Lovecraft books, this one is a great entry point, as it introduces the reader to the Old Ones, the Necronomicon, and even Cthulhu himself. I would recommend to anyone who loves horror novels, or anyone who wants to read Lovecraft.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Windfall
Smith, Jennifer E.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Windfall" of Jennifer E. Smith, a beautiful story of love and wonder, shows that one million dollars can not always buy happiness. I loved how easy this book was to read--it had a quick rhythm and flow that made it nearly impossible to put down. Though I found this book to be predictable, I loved the writing and plot of this story. Though I knew what was going to happen, Smith's writing made it worth it to read cover to cover. I also liked the theme of this story: kindness. It also made clear the many emotions and events that would occur in real life in this situation, making this story feel like it did happen in real life. If you like happy endings, love stories, and seeing life from a new and engaging perspective, then this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Love and Gelato
Welch, Jenna Evans
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"Love and Gelato" of Jenna Evans Welch, and inspiring story of love and question, shows that life is a puzzle waiting to be solved. Though I don't usually like romance and "lovey dovey" reads, I really liked "Love and Gelato". It was written with a purpose and kept me engaged from the first page to the last. I loved how I felt like I was strolling through cobblestone paths of Italy along with the characters of this story. I also enjoyed how this story was not only about finding who the characters were and discovering love among the others, but learning about the culture and environment of a whole new country. If you like happy endings, romance, and stories that are hard to put down, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
As You Wish
Sedoti, Chelsea
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"As You Wish" of Chelsea Sedoti, an interesting story of fantasy and myth, shows that wants can shadow what is truly important. The way Sedoti wrote this story is both engaging and interesting. On the surface, it seems cliche and boring, but the pages hold so much depth and wonder it makes the book nearly impossible to put down. I love how this book makes you feel like you are walking and breathing with the characters written in ink. This book is interesting and makes you think. If you love parallel universes, mysteries, and wonder, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Fangirl
Rowell, Rainbow
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Fangirl" of Rainbow Rowell, a beautiful story of love and finding yourself, shows that often times things are not always as they seem. This book is a page-turner; the way Rowell writes flows easily and you can tell her words hold meaning. This book is told from the perspective of an anxious college freshman, making many readers (like myself) connect due to relating to the feeling of new surroundings and people. However, I not only liked this book because of the instant connection, but the way the plot was so interesting and engaging. This book does include some older topics, so it may be inappropriate for younger audiences. If you like happy endings, "Eleanor and Park" or more by this author, or a well written and attention-grabbing read, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
The Haters
Andrews, Jesse
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"The Haters" of Jesse Andrews, a down-to-earth novel about lust and dreams, depicts that life does not always go as planned. This book is by the author who also wrote "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl". "The Haters" is a book about two best friends who sneak away from band camp with a girl they met there. This book is both immature and wise... it has a moral and lessons throughout, but the way this story is written lightens the mood and makes it seem as if written by a teenager. I really liked how smooth and easy of a read this book is. It was clear and easy to understand, and entertaining and nearly impossible to put down. This book does include some PG-13 themes, so if you are of a younger audience, this book is not for you. However, if you liked "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" or you just want a fun and engaging read, this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Foxheart
Legrand, Claire Zollars
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In the middle grade adventure fantasy "Foxheart", a young girl and her pet dog Fox must venture out into a strange magical world to face the fearsome Wolf King, with the help of a grumpy old woman and a little boy named Sly Boots. This story was simply fantastic! Everything from the world-building to the character development was incredibly well-written. The beginning is a little slow, but once the action begins, it moves very quickly. The plot twists were completely unexpected and I was totally invested in the story.

The only negatives I may add is that some of the side-quests that were taken on the journey didn't seem particularly necessary. Some were vital to the plot, while others seemed to just sort of fill the time. Nevertheless, I was engrossed. While this book is actually geared towards middle-schoolers, I'm not sure I recommend it to someone younger than twelve, as it was pretty violent. But, if that's not a problem, then definitely pick up this amazing book ASAP!
-Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Genres:
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Animal Farm" by George Orwell is about a seemingly normal farm that turns against their farmer. The animals take over the farm with the help of their leaders who are pigs. After all the humans are gone from the farm they continue under the rule of the pigs and create a system of rules to follow as a guideline for their new life. Everything goes well until one of the pigs, Napoleon, uses the dogs he trained to remove the other leader, Snowball, from the animal farm. With Snowball gone Napoleon takes complete control of the farm. He alters the rules made by Snowball, abuses his power, and makes poor decisions that negatively affect the other animals. One of their rules/guidelines was that humans were evil and not to be associated with.

Napoleon breaks that rule many times starting with making a trade of wood with another farm run by a farmer. They get scammed from the exchange with the human, but that doesn't stop Napoleon from dealing with humans. He goes to the extent of not telling the fellow animals the truth and putting all pigs above everyone else. From there things get progressively worse until Napoleon eventually befriends the humans along with the other pigs. They become so much like the humans that it gets to the point that the pigs are basically humans.

I would recommend the book. "Animal Farm" is interesting and in my opinion is in a sense satire, so I really enjoyed it. I read this book because I was planning on reading 1984 by the same author for a BTS theory and wanted to read other books by George Orwell. I kind of could relate to some of the animals because when they disagreed with Napoleon they brought up good points, but no one listened to them. The ending is very surprising and the book isn't predictable.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Ink and Ashes
Maetani, Valynne E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I love this book! I am in 7th grade and this book gave me goosebumps and look behind me when I'm turned around in fear of the "evil" characters in this book. (Granted, I get scared very easily). Ink and Ashes tells the story of teenage girl Claire Takata, and her horrifying experience that was brought upon her by her dead father's passing and his sketchy life. This story perfectly blends mystery and Japanese culture, and is one of the most unique mystery books I have ever read. I highly recommend this book for mature middle school readers who don't read much mystery and want to "test the waters". However, all kinds of readers from 6th grade and up would enjoy this book! Don't hesitate to try it out!

Reviewer's Name: Anna C.
Awards:
Wild Beauty
McLemore, Anna-Marie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book Wild Beauty is a vibrant tale of the cursed Nomeolvides women who are able to grow plants using magic. Their curse is that they are unable to leave their home at La Pradera without dying. This book is a wonderful exploration of love, family, life, and lies. Wild Beauty includes exploration into sexuality and the bonds we share with our family. Wild Beauty is one of the best books I've read in a long time because of it's depth and true dive into the human soul. This book is great for readers who want to pick up a book for a colourful story and not have it continued in a series (I personally have gotten tired of every book being a series).

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Awards:
Daughter of the Pirate King
Levenseller, Tricia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book Daughter of the Pirate King is a thrilling story about a pirate princess who is captured by an enemy ship on a mission for her father. This story follows Alosa and her mission to retrieve part of the map to the island of the Sirens. I really enjoyed this book for it's humour and wit, along with the progressive plot that kept the story flowing. This book keeps you guessing for answers as it alludes to many things you might be able to figure out if you read between the lines. I appreciated the complexities of this book and cannot wait to read the sequel. I would highly suggest this book to readers who love action and humour.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.

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