All Book Reviews

The Hound of Rowan
Neff, Henry H.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Join Max on a thrilling adventure throughout the school year at Rowan Academy! This book was a really great book with lots of adventure and magic. It is sort of like Harry Potter (don't compare these two series because as similar as they can be, they can be VERY different too) but in my honest opinion, if someone were to ask me Hogwarts or Rowan? I would probably say Hogwarts. However, this book is an amazing adventurous, magical, good vs. evil type of book.

There are a few kisses throughout this book, including one where David captures a photo of Connor and Lucia and keeps the photograph. There is a few sentences on one page where Connor does something questionable, but they do not focus on it or keep bringing it up.

Overall, this book was really good an besides those few parts that I mentioned above, it is a fine book.

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey S.
Awards:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I was really excited when Fantastic Beasts came out because Harry Potter was over and I loved the make-believe world of wizards and witches. Before Fantastic Beasts was released I was curious what J.K. Rowling was going to do next, I didn’t think she was done writing books altogether. Fantastic Beasts turned out to be a great read and satisfied my imagination with magic.

Fantastic Beasts, a fictional novel by J.K. Rowling, follows a magical young man named Newt on a journey to find his beasts that escaped. Newt Scamander is a wizard unlike any other, he uses not only his powers but the powers of his magical animals. In Fantastic Beasts Newt has lost some of his creatures and needs to find them before they wreak havoc among the regular people’s lives and more importantly before the truth about wizards being real is revealed to everyone. Newt meets lots of strange people almost as fascinating as his beasts and even befriends a person named Jacob on his journey.

Something I’ve wondered for a long time is why J.K Rowling wanted her book to be designed in the format of a screen play, maybe she thought it would make the characters feel more real and personal. I think that J.K. Rowling really got everything right with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them even down to the art which creates very detailed imagery and gives you a sense of what she is thinking about when she makes these strange beasts.

Reviewer's Name: Seth
Genres:
The Lightning Thief
Riordan, Rick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

An excellent introduction to Greek mythology and adventure, Percy Jackson and the Olympians provides an engaging storyline and an interesting set of characters. Perfect for early interest in literature and mythology alike, it was one of my first favorite series of books. I would recommend reading for ages 9 to 12, but it can be enjoyed at any age!

Reviewer's Name: Settare
One Hundred Years of Solitude
García Márquez, Gabriel
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the tale of the rise and fall of the fictional Colombian town Macondo, and the stories of the Buendia family that inhabits the town. The novel is stellar. The characters feel alive and breathing -- they all have different motivations, desires, and weaknesses. The reader truly begins to feel a connection with these characters as the novel progresses, and that's what makes the novel so good -- if you didn't know the town was fake, you would think it was a real place. The novel pioneered the genre of magical realism, which is a novel with a realistic view of the world that includes magical and surreal elements. The inclusion of magical realism elements in the story is what makes the book truly unique and fun to read. However, it is a very dense book, and can become very confusing very easily. If you can get past the often confusing nature of the novel, you will find a very rich and rewarding reading experience that I would recommend for anyone to read.

Reviewer's Name: Peter
Awards:
Genres:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hugo, Victor
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Victor Hugo is one of those classic authors who I’ve hesitated reading because his stories tend to have a lot of details that don’t necessarily add to the plot. Sure, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is no Les Misérables , but Hugo’s style made this book perhaps a little longer than it should have been. Either way, now I know a lot more about the architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral. Despite all this, the story of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is timeless in many ways, not the least of which centers around its titular character.

While modern stories are vying to be inclusive and diverse, Victor Hugo managed to write a story in the 1800s that not only included a disabled individual but racially diverse characters (at least for France) as well. The fact that both are sympathetic protagonists helps cement Quasimodo and Esmerelda in my mind. They’re both persecuted in their own ways; ostracized from a society that wants homogeneity more than diversity. Sound familiar? Perhaps this is why this book maintains a timeless quality. Even with the slight twist in the ending, the harassment endured by these individuals doesn’t dampen their kind spirits.

For those who might be more familiar with the Disney version of this story, the movie adaptation is more along the lines of a kid-friendly (i.e., sanitized) version of the basic plot. There is quite a bit more violence and “romance” involved in this story—not to mention the obvious absence of talking gargoyles—which I felt made it a little more convoluted than it had to be. Still, Hugo’s way with words was mesmerizing throughout, even if I know that they’ve been through the filter of a translator. If Les Miserables is daunting to you, perhaps try warming up with The Hunchback of Notre Dame, first. You won’t be disappointed.

A timeless classic full of diverse characters and exciting action, I give The Hunchback of Notre Dame 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Hunger Games is a very descriptive novel that I am really fascinated by. Sometimes I like to think about the odds of a government similar to the Capital forming and what district I would be divided into would be. I think that it is kind of interesting that Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12 because not only is it the last district it isn’t really anything special it’s just the coal district.

The Hunger Games, a dystopian novel by Suzanne Collins, follows a young women named Katniss Everdeen and her fight to survive the tragic Hunger Games. It’s Election Day at the start of the book And Katniss’ sister,Prim, just turned of age when her name is put into the drawing for the Hunger
Games. When it came time for a girl to be elected for the Hunger Games despite the odds Prim’s name was drawn but Katniss wouldn’t let her go to the hunger games where she would meet her death so she volunteered. The Hunger Games is a televised event where two people from each of the twelve
districts are sent into an arena and fight to the death until there is only one person remaining. The last person standing is named the Victor. The Hunger Games acts as a reminder to the districts to never rebel against the Capital.

I think that the Hunger Games is an example of what happens when government takes “control freak” to the next level, they send people into an arena to die just because they want the district to know they can. I wonder why the districts haven’t rebelled, it’s not like their lives could get much worse if they did.

Reviewer's Name: Seth
The Lightning Thief
Riordan, Rick
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Percy Jackson series is one of my favorite series’ because it combines two topics that I really like, Greek mythology and action/adventure. Greek gods and legends are typically very epic and exaggerated so combining that with a very relatable boy creates an amazing result that I think only Rick Riordan could have come up with and developed.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians; The Lightning Thief, a fictional novel by Rick Riordan, follows the journey of a boy and his relationships and encounters with Greek legends and myths. Percy Jackson is at first what some might call a “loser” and often gets picked on at school and has trouble concentrating on academics. Percy’s whole life changes when he discovers that his dad, which he hadn’t known before, was the all-powerful Poseidon making him a demigod. After Percy finds out who his dad id he is sent to Camp-Half Blood, a cleverly named camp for demigods, because his home is no longer safe for him. In Camp Half-Blood Percy makes himself at home I makes new friends by impressing people with his powers which he didn’t even know he had. The fun and games is quickly over when learns that someone has stolen the lightning rod from Zeus, the king of the gods, and the top suspect is none other than Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon. On Percy’s journey to prove to Zeus that he is not the thief he is accompanied by his two best friends Annabeth and Grover.

I personally think that it was quite a genius idea to have the main character be just an average boy that gets bullied and picked on at school because it makes him relatable. I think that in one way or another everyone has been bullied before and it makes Percy a very relatable character and I also think it kind of acts as inspiration for us.

Reviewer's Name: Seth
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't
Sinek, Simon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I have been looking to develop my leadership skills over the past year or so and this title was on the Sergeant Major of the Army's reading list a couple years ago. While I feel as though most leadership books tend to overlap themes and some key points, author Sinek did a great job of providing well recognized examples for each idea he attempted to convey. His references to large company names and groups helped make the ideas practical and applicable to real world situations.

I appreciated that he seemed to get the idea for his title from military members; I don't think there are many places where leadership skills exemplified and decisions are that crucial. Sinek's ideas were easy to grasp, and easily applied if you are sitting in a leadership role. I will say, not currently being in a leadership role, I found it interesting to apply what I read to the leaders I have now. There are things that I'm frustrated with that I haven't been able to put a finger on and this book conceptualized what I have been feeling. I have been able to verbalize to my
leaders some ideas and perhaps improve morale for the staff.

The version I read was the expanded version that had added chapters for the Millennial generation. I was born at the very beginning of the Millennial years, however I do not identify with that generation. I have had the opportunity to lead multigenerational groups. I have often found myself aggravated when dealing with Millennials, however this book offered some wonderful insight on how to lead them and how you might utilize the unique set of skills and passions that identify that generation.

I greatly appreciated this book and the practical spin it put on some of the ideas that I have already read about. It clarified some old ideas and offered some new. I would absolutely recommend this book for anyone who finds themselves in a leadership role.

Reviewer's Name: Kristina
Genres:
Private Down Under
Patterson, James
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I listened to Private Down Under as an audiobook. This was the first James Patterson book I've ever read/listened to. I can't wait to delve into even more; I was instantly hooked. I finished another in less than a week. I wasn't sure what to expect, but after the main characters, a male and female who work for a private investigating firm, I anticipated somewhat of a romance. I was pleasantly surprised that was not what it was. Craig Gisto is launching "Private", an investigating firm, when almost instantly three cases land in their lap.

I was so anxious to find out how the cases unfolded that I found myself sitting in my car waiting for the end of each chapter. More than that, I dug out the CD player from the garage so I could end my evenings listening. Each case had it's own twists and turns, each with their own level of suspense. They were not able to be "solved" by the reader until the author gifted you that information. There were a few gory details, but nothing most adult readers will squirm at. The tone was pretty serious, with moments where I may have emitted an audible gasp. I truly appreciated how they had a native Australian read this book, considering the locale. The reader did a great job adjusting his accent to the characters he was speaking for. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I am looking forward to discovering more of what Mr. Patterson has to offer.

Reviewer's Name: Kristina
Devouring Gray Cover
Herman, Christine Lynn
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

After the tragic, premature death of Violet’s older sister Rosie, Violet and her mother move back to her mother’s home town in the sleepy little town of Four Paths, NY. But Four Paths has more going on than originally meets the eye: it’s secretly the prison of a nefarious beast. Captured by the founders of the Four Paths, the beast lives in a shadow world on top of the regular world, called the Gray. As more and more people get pulled into the Gray and are violently, Violet and her new friends are called to use their newfound magical powers to stop the beast at any cost.

The book is being marketed as “Stranger Things” meets “The Raven Boys”, and I would say that is a pretty spot on comparison. The Gray is not unlike The Upside Down or Cabeswater. The difference, really, is that this book is lacking in a few areas where Stranger Things and The Raven Boys succeed: detailed characterization, nuanced worldbuilding, and extremely good writing. The characters in this one were one dimensional; Violet and Harper, two of our four main characters, were fairly interchangeable to me. The book fluctuates between following the children of the four main founders, and as a result, we only get to know a few of them really well. They are still interesting – they all have to deal with quite a bit of pressure from their parents and the town, but I wish they had each been developed more.

I really enjoyed the worldbuilding at first, but then a few details were introduced that clearly just served as plot devices. For example, if the children of the founders date each other, they will lose any magical abilities they may have inherited – there’s no need for this aside from generating romantic tension that could have been generated in a number of other ways. There were a few other plot points (like the rituals) that were never explained in a satisfying way. That said, I raced through the book. As I got closer to the end and realized there would be a sequel, I got a little less interested (this did not need to be a duology).


TLDR: While it’s not quite as good, folks who enjoyed Stranger Things or The Raven Boys will find a lot to like here too. Despite its many problems, it was a creative, compelling read, and I did end up enjoying it! 3 stars. I liked it. I’d read another book by this author.


Thanks to Titan Books and Netgalley for the advance electronic copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Devouring Gray will be available for purchase on 02 April, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Everless
Holland, Sara
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Everless is a very interesting read with a concept similar to that of the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. This book follows a girl in a kingdom where your life-blood is currency. She is thrown back into the royal goings of the royal family to be able to care for her father but learns much more about herself than she thought. Overall, I really enjoyed this book because it's an interesting concept and I enjoy the sort of fantastical kingdom type books. Some parts of this book were confusing in terms of what exactly the characters were feeling and their intentions but I thought this was a very good book. I would recommend this book for lovers of the Red Queen series and books of similar concepts.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Genres:
The Hazel Wood
Albert, Melissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Hazel Wood is an interesting mix of modern perspective and fairy tale magic. This book took a Grimm's fairy tale turn in it's dark and twisting paths. The main character has always been followed by bad luck and when she goes back to her dead grandmother's estate, she finds out why. I really enjoyed this book as a fan of fairy tales and darker ideas. I would recommend this book for fairy tale lovers and people who have a love for the darker side of the world.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Ace of Shades
Foody, Amanda
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ace of Shades a spectacular read. This book is set in a town ruled by gangs and gambling. The main character is trying to find her mother and get through the city without it ruining her, but she finds that she is made more of this city than she thought. I really enjoyed learning all about the city and the workings of the gangs within it. Ace of Shades has a special magic for drawing the reader in and keeping you wanting more. I would suggest this book for people who enjoy mystery, fantasy, and a little bit of Las Vegas.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Awards:
Genres:
War Storm
Aveyard, Victoria
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The final installment of the Red Queen series, War Storm was an interesting conclusion. This book is the conclusion of the war between Cal, Mavis, and Mare. For a conclusion, I thought the author took a bit of the easy route by not wrapping it all up and leaving an open ending. After reading the whole series I felt like this wasn't the best ending to the series but it was an interesting way for the author to tie it up. For readers of the series, definitely read this book because it's still very good, just not my favourite of all of the them.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Fangirl
Rowell, Rainbow
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book follows two twin girls heading off to college, and they differ in social skills, interests, and beliefs. They share common ground over their mutual love for a book series revolving around Simon Snow. He is similar to Harry Potter. Cather, though, is much more obsessed with the series and writes fanfiction in her free time. With no interest in attending college away from her dad, unlike her sister Wren, she hides out in her dorm and avoids people until her roomate and her friend Levi drag her out. She slowly overcomes her hatred of university and gets closer with Levi, but struggles between writing what is an original idea of hers and what she takes from the Simon Snow books. I really enjoyed this book because it is easy to relate to in today’s world. With ever-present media and popular shows and books bring in the spotlight, it is hard to be feel genuine in your ideas or opinions.
The book explores different ideas or love and originality and provides a view of family and of university that is atypical. It was very interesting to read about the social dynamics of an introverted university student, but the cute romance aspect of the book also adds to the entertainment. I would recommend it for a young adult read. I would give it three and a half stars out of five.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
American Gods
Gaiman, Neil
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book follows ex-convict Shadow, once he is released from prison and enters into a new job as the assistant to Mr. Wednesday (more commonly known as Odin). Shadow doesn’t believe the fact that he is surrounded by gods, until Mr. Wednesday introduces him to god and god and shows him undeniable evidence. Mr. Wednesday is using Shadow as a mean of amassing the older, more forgotten gods into an army ready to retaliate against the new gods of the modern era. Technology, for example, is depicted as a god, but a socially removed and young god. This has been one of my absolute favorite books to read because of how it explores the change in worshiping from ancient gods and folklore into technology, media, and trends. The book is so complicated because it brings together ancient gods of cultures from around the world.

Each have different origins and purposes, and the role Shadow plays as the representation of humanity only intensifies the surreal feeling of the book.
I liked how I was able to relate to Shadow, as bring subject to the controlling factors of society, whether they be demanding gods or media outlets. I appreciated how well-researched the cultures written about were, and how there isn't a page in the book that doesn’t bring about another point to think about, something like morality or control. The book is also very entertaining and a fascinating storyline, and I would highly recommend it to any reader. I would give it five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
Sing, Unburied, Sing
Ward, Jesmyn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is a mix of old folklore and spirituality, racism, social stereotypes, and empathy. It revolves around a family who face racism from the white grandfather of black children. The main characters are the mother, the son, and the baby daughter, who relies more on her brother than her own mom. Her mother spends more time doing drugs than raising her kids, so the grandparents have generally brought them up. Their father, a white drug dealer, is in prison, and the book follows the family’s road trip to go and pick him up. The novel switches between a modern setting, and the prison but from the 1940s, when the black grandfather was in jail. The story analyzes the reasons behind a broken family, and brings to light the continued racism in the southern USA. However, the spirituality plays a role because another character who joins the road trip is the mother’s dead brother, who appears as a ghost and brings up the idea of family. I enjoyed this book very much because of its complexity. The book can be a slow read, as all the scenery and characters are continually described in precise detail, but the author leaves no point unexplained. The meanings behind the plot are subtle, and the supernatural aspect is a good point of interest to tie together the past and the present. I loved the honesty behind the author’s writing, and I enjoyed the beautiful writing style. I would highly recommend this book, and would give it four out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
In Other Lands
Rees Brennan, Sarah
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This books follows Elliot Schafer as he leaves behind the modern England and travels instead into a magical land where he enrolls in a sort of a school.

Students, called cadets at the camp/school, can choose between war training and council training, meaning fighting or diplomacy. He befriends Luke Sunborn, the fan favorite of the camp and a promising soldier, through a truce that they made regarding the third member of their group, Serene, the only elf who joined the human army and who they both try to help by offering extra lessons. Elliot’s mission slowly becomes peace in the Borderlands, the name of the magical place he now lives in, because he doesn’t like their dependency on war as a means of existence. The book then follows the three friends as they navigate treaties and violence and meet many magical creatures. This is by far the best book I’ve read this year. There is a sense of empathy for all the characters, realistic romances, delicate friendships, and other harsh realities that rarely appear in young adult literature, not to mention the reverse gender stereotypes and raging pacifism that become center points of the plot. I loved the detail in the story and how everything in the story in interconnected. I could barely put it down, and would highly recommend it. I would give it five stars out of five.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
Five Feet Apart
Lippincott, Rachel
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This book follows two teens who have Cystic Fibrosis and are receiving treatment in the same hospital. The girl is fairly strict with her routines, but she slowly falls for the rebellious boy who ignores the doctors’ advice and avoids his medicine. While this book was interesting, especially in regards to the medical aspect, the plot as a whole wasn’t all that unique.

The idea of a forbidden romance, even due to medical conditions, was not terribly exciting. I would not recommend this book for anything other than a quick, cliché romance read. It isn’t too deep and the end is very predictable. I initially chose this book because I thought it would go more in depth into the lives of the main characters lives and explore CF, but the book is almost totally limited to the hospital. I would give it two and a half stars out of five.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
American Sniper
Kyle, Chris
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

American Sniper is the biography of the most lethal sniper in the United States military, who was apart of the United States Navy SEALs. The biography encompasses the story of Chris Kyle, to which it describes the story of both his military tours and his own personal/civilian life. This autobiography adheres towards the intriguing events that Kyle experienced within his life.

American Sniper was a very well written book that did a great job describing the embellishments and challenges that Kyle faced, when he was a SEAL or just a civilian. Personally, the book is one of the best that surpasses many other titles that I have read. I highly recommend it to other readers.

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Awards:

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