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All Book Reviews

The Short Drop
Fitzsimmons, Matthew
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Short Drop was recommended to me. I finally got around to reading it and was blown away! The book is a mystery/thriller. The basic plot is that the vice president's daughter was kidnapped. Who kidnapped her? What happened to her? This is a mystery that went on for 10 years until Gibson Vaughn, who grew up with the vice president's daughter, is asked to help solve the mystery. There is a lot of action and many twists and turns!
Just when I thought I knew where the story was going, it changed and I found myself wondering how it was going to end. I liked that Matthew Fitzsimmons didn't tie up all of the loose ends and now I have to wait until fall to see
if he picks up any for the next installment in the series! Definitely a fast read and well worth your time!

Reviewer's Name: Melissa
Illuminae
Kaufman, Amie and Kristoff, Jay
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Kady and Ezra are citizens of the Kerenza colony - an illegal mining colony in a remote corner of the universe. One day, the colony comes under attack from rival mining company Beitech. Kady and Ezra manage to escape on two of the three spaceships that survive the attack. Unfortunately, in the process of escaping Kerenza and battling Beitech's ships, the Kerenza ships are massively damaged and unable access their jump drives to escape to the nearest jump station. The remaining Beitech ship is chasing the Kerenza ships through space in order to eliminate ALL survivors from the Kerenza colony.

Illuminae is a collection of the electronic communications between Kady and Ezra juxtaposed with a variety of different things: ship diagrams, dialog between the different ships' commanders, Wikipedia type pages, video
transcripts, thoughts from the AI controlling one of the ships, pictures of victims, etc.

I have really mixed feelings about this one. First, I really enjoyed the layout of the book. I'm not sure that I've read anything quite like it; I guess I would maybe label this as a more modern take on the epistolary
format. Some of the pages (usually when they were in space) were prose set to artwork, which was really cool to see. However, the layout was not easy to read on a kindle - luckily I had the book checked out as both a physical book and an eBook which I would recommend as the book itself is basically an anvil.

I really liked the plot of the first 54% (thanks, eBook!) of the book, and then it went a little off the rails for me. At this point, the book kind of changes from a mystery/exploration of the use of AI to an episode of the
Walking Dead set in space, which is decidedly not my thing. The last half of the book is actionactionaction, which never gives the characters or the readers a chance to breathe. The characters themselves are pretty generic sarcastic teens - I thought they were both pretty funny, but their personalities weren't really developed much beyond the snark. Oh, and the romance. I know I'm not the intended audience, but the romance felt forced, melodramatic, and icky. I skimmed those parts...because gross.

I don't think I'll check out the next book as I was not a fan of the last half of Illuminae, but I did really enjoy the reading experience. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a really unique sci fi read with a
healthy helping of romance. 3 stars. I (mostly) liked it.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Written in Red
Bishop, Anne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is the first in a series by Anne Bishop focusing on a world where humans and "others" try to live together. The "others" can take on whatever form they feel comfortable with and are trying to understand this "new predator" species (humans). A girl who sees prophesies turns both worlds upside down when she escapes her human "handlers" and takes a job in one of the "others'" courtyards. Excellently written, characters well rounded and "alive". So far there are 4 books in this series and I've read them all - recommend them highly for anyone from young adult to aged and still curious. You'll love the characters in this series and the "world" they live in.

Reviewer's Name: Pauline
Awards:
After Alice
Maguire, Gregory
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

The book follows Ada (Alice's friend who does rate a mention in the original) as she tumbles down the rabbit hole after Alice (see what Maguire did there?). In between chapters about Ada in Wonderland, we follow the goings on of Ada and Alice's families above ground. I wanted the book to be Alice in Wonderland meets Downton Abbey, and that is definitely not what I got. The parts in Wonderland were ok, though Ada's character was never developed, and as such, I didn't actually care if she was stuck in a zoo forever with the White Queen or whatever. The above ground parts were painfully boring - even though Maguire added Darwin as a character, which could have been fascinating! We basically follow various housekeepers and Alice's sister Lydia as they traipse around searching for the lost children. Exciting it was not. There was also a ton of completely pointless social commentary - for example, its not exactly shocking that there would be lots of racists in Victorian England.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, Maguire writes as though he's just ingested a thesaurus.

This is the second Maguire book that I've read and hated (I was not very fond of Wicked either), so I believe it will be my last. 1 star.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
The Wings of the Dove
James, Henry
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Would you like to read slower? Would you like to read a novel slowly, I mean in a good way, meditatively, obsessing less about the plot? That is probably my favorite thing about reading Henry James, especially his novel The Wings of the Dove. It is totally character driven. Yet what emerges out of this kind of storytelling is suspense and narrative curiosity, the usual cause and effect of a complex, satisfying plot grouped together with some choice
subplots.
Since it was published in 1902, with a story set fairly close to the time, it is a classic Victorian novel told in James’ very unique and, at the same time, typical prose of the era. This contrast is part of the fascination reading it. You feel it resting on Hawthorne but anticipating Joyce. (In no uncertain terms, the language is certainly nothing like the patchy prose of this choppy review!) The style is aristocratic, philosophical, contemplative. To describe it in one word, I would choose the word Consciousness. It’s so hypnotic at times you might wonder if it is really his brother William James the psychologist-philosopher whispering it in your ear.
And last: there is a raciness embedded in it but without the modern explicit details. You won’t feel like you need a shower afterwards.

Reviewer's Name: Trent
Genres:
Inkheart
Funke, Cornelia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is a fantasy book about twelve-year-old Meggie and her bookbinder father Mo who can read things out of books with his beautiful voice. Unfortunately, one of the people that Mo has accidentally read out is the evil character Capricorn from the fictional book Inkheart. Though it has been ten years since this happened, Capricorn is still hunting for Mo so that he can read a horrible monster out of Inkheart to do his evil work. The ending to this book is very satisfying, though it still leaves some questions unanswered which the author comes back to in her sequel Inkspell.
The best part of this book is its believable and completely unique characters, from the sad fire tamer Dustfinger to the cruel, superstitious Basta to Meggie’s stubborn, book-loving great-aunt Elinor. The plot is predictable at some times but at others is very surprising. There are plenty of twists since this book is over 700 pages, which makes it a good book for lazy summer reading.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Grace O.
Sticks
Bauer, Joan
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Sticks is about a boy named Mickey who's dad is a champion pool player, but his father died when he was young. Mickey decides to follow in his dads foot steps and trains to win the Junior Nine-Ball Championship. Then a stranger comes to town, claiming he is a friend of his father's. This book is a short but interesting read. I'd rate this book a three because it was quick and well written but lacked adventure or excitement. I felt compassion for Mickey when it talks about him wishing his father could have seen him grow up. I read the book because I like the author Joan Bauer though it is not one of her better books. I recommend this book to people who like pool and are missing a loved one.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
Hope was Here
Bauer, Joan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Hope Was Here is about a girl named Hope who is a waitress in
training. She and her aunt move from town to town. When they move to a small
town in Wisconsin and work at a local diner that's when the story takes off.
The author has a great way off describing Hopes life. Out of 1(Yuck) -
5(Awesome) I would rate this book a 4 because it got a Newbery Honor award,
but does not have ton of action. I picked this book because I like the author
Joan Bauer, and her previous books.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
Legend
Lu, Marie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A plague ripples throughout the cities, fatal to anyone who has caught it for too long. No one wonders where they come from; the bigger issue is the war. A new recruit, top in her class, is too blind to notice. A boy, Day, is on the run, he’s resourceful, cunning. The two are unlucky enough to cross paths on a dangerous adventure. I give this a 5/5, it is an emotional roller-coaster all the way.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Every Soul a Star
Mass, Wendy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Every Soul A Star by Wendy Mass is a tale of three kids who become the most unlikely of friends. Ally loves nature, and to be around her home which is out in the forest where the air is clean. Her greatest ambition is to discover a comet. Bree loves nothing more than her clothes, and her dream is to be a model. Jack keeps to himself, and has no friends except his art work. When the three are pushed together they become the best of friends to discover something extraordinary. I rate this book a 4/5- the beginning was a bit slow and bland.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Awards:
The Maze Runner
Dashner, James
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Thomas can't remember anything.
He wakes up in a mysterious lift and finds himself in a strange place called the Glade with several other boys - all their memories wiped. Encircling the Glade is a giant maze that holds terrifying creatures and endless paths that lead to nowhere. But, who put them there?
This book was very fast-paced. As Thomas tries to unravel his past, we discover something very dark has brought them there - something even wicked. I read this book quickly - it was very hard to put down. The end is just as confusing as the beginning, making you even more anxious to pick up the next book!
The only real flaw I could see was the lack of character development. This may because it's the first book and the characters may change as the story continues. But, besides that, it was great!
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P
Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein
Hemphill, Stephanie
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Hideous Love is a verse novel about the life of Mary Shelley, the woman who wrote the iconic Frankenstein. Mary Shelley ran away with her lover, Percy Shelley and traveled around Europe, getting inspiration from the scenic surroundings for her writing.
Mary Shelley had led a very interesting life full of tragedy and drama and with award-winning Stephanie Hemphill writing it, it'll be great, right?
Ha... no. All I got was disappointment and dissatisfaction.
Reading Hideous Love was a chore. I kept on thinking it would get better, but it didn't happen.
The poems were choppy and I feel like Stephanie Hemphill just tried to make her sentences as short as possible, put them in a pile, and called it poetry.
Horrible Love didn't even scratch the surface of the emotions Mary Shelley must have felt, I couldn't relate to her at all; it was hard not to skim through the poems. I can't help but think that Hemphill didn't even try putting any structure or effort in her novel. A few poems in Hideous Love were written fairly well, but that meager amount can't make up for all of the rest of those tedious and boring poems.The verse novel was mostly about Mary Shelley worrying about the faithfulness of her husband and her actual writing was just tacked on there like an afterthought.
I don't recommend this to anyone, and Hideous Love is possibly the worst book I have ever had the misfortune of reading. The Wikipedia article on Mary Shelley was more interesting and gave more information.
Reviewer's Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X
Egg & Spoon
Maguire, Gregory
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Elena is a peasant living in Miersk, a village in Russia. Ekaterina is a noble that was passing through Miersk on her way to a ball. Due to an unfortunate accident, Elena and Ekaterina switch places and need to set things right again.
I first took notice of Egg & Spoon because of the aesthetic of the cover. I was about to choose not to read it after seeing the summary, but then I saw that it was written by Gregory Maguire, so I decided against not reading it.
The writing style is truly beautiful, and I can't really find the right words to describe it, which is frustrating, to say the least. To me, the story is slightly reminiscent of having a (very long) conversation with someone; it kind of goes off into tangents, it gets unusually descriptive on small things that don't really matter, and it talks about a little bit about everything. I find that really enjoyable, but for some people, it can seem long and tedious. I had to really concentrate while reading it because I kept on admiring how amazing the writing was instead of actually processing what was happening.
The characters were incredible! Everyone had different and unique personalities and reacted to things differently. I found all of them quite charming in their own ways. They all just had so much character!
The humor had me dying of laughter and really lightened the mood of the whole story.
One thing I didn't like about the novel was its pacing. Everything happened too slowly, and I was always waiting for something to happen to push the story along; Egg & Spoon is definitely not for impatient people, especially since it has almost 500 pages. It was really hard to get through.
Egg & Spoon was based off of Russian folklore and really gave off a fairy tale vibe, which is always a plus.
Egg & Spoon is definitely not for everyone, but, in my opinion, it was phenomenal.
Reviewer's Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict
Stewart, Trenton
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When Nicholas Benedict, a prodigal nine-year-old orphan suffering from Narcolepsy (a condition that causes sudden bouts of sleep), hears a rumor that there are millions of dollars hidden in the orphanage he just got transferred to, he is determined to find out where it is.
One great aspect of the novel is the main character. In the beginning of the book, Nicholas Benedict was very cynical and only saw the bad in people due to his past experiences, but as the story continued, he started to learn that good people did actually exist, and began to aspire to be like those people as well; reading this development of the main character was a very nice experience. I liked the fact that Nicholas wasn't perfect and despite the fact that he was a genius, there were times when he acted like a child; because of this, he seemed more like an actual person. Nicholas's intelligence continually surprised me, and I couldn't predict anything he would do, which made me want to find out what happened next. Most of the other characters had a lot of personality as well, and I found myself relating to some of them; they had vices and they had virtues, just like any other person.
There are many uncommon words in this book, so it is very likely that you will coming across a word you don't know.
I chose to read this because I first read The Mysterious Benedict Society series, and this book is the prequel.
I usually stay away from mystery novels, but The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is an exception. Whether you like mystery novels or not is irrelevant when it comes to this; I think everyone should read this.I honestly couldn't put this book down; I read it all in one go. I consider this my most favorite book!
Reviewer's Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X.
Awards:
The Search for Wondla
DiTerlizzi, Tony
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This novel is about Eva Nine, a girl who had lived underground her whole life, training to be able to survive on the Earth's surface. Everything changes when a beast destroys her underground home; she was forced to run to the surface, but everything she learned about the earth from her training underground doesn't seem to apply to what she actually experienced.
I really enjoyed reading this book because Tony DiTerlizzi (the author) put a lot of effort into making The Search for Wondla's universe; he described everything very thoroughly and even had pictures in the novel as a visual aid to help the readers imagine what he was trying to convey. The made-up contraptions, plants, and animals in the story were all very unique and I was impressed by the creativity and the thought put into them.
Because of all of the detailed descriptions, it can be a bit overwhelming for some readers. I don't recommend this book to those who tend to skim, because if you do, you will end up confused and unsatisfied with the story.
The illustrations were absolutely fantastic and really tied the book together. The art made me feel like I was actually there with the main character and seeing what she was seeing.
This book is a very good example of adventure and fantasy, but I feel that The Search for Wondla had a little bit of everything mixed into it to make something amazing.
The writing was a bit awkward and not as fluid as it could have been on some parts, which can be noticed by more experienced readers, but it was fairly easy to get past.
The Search for Wondla is a great book and I could not stop after I started reading it.
Reviewer's Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X
Werlin, Nancy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Double helix is packed with science, ethics, psychology and relationships. Eli Samuels, 18, can’t get close--not to his caring but preoccupied dad; not to his smart, long-time girlfriend, Viv; and certainly not to his mother, who has been institutionalized for years with a devastating degenerative disease.
Instead of going to college after he graduates high school, Eli decides to apply for a job at the Wyatt Transgenics Lab, a well-known lab for genetic-engineering experiments. Eli’s father is furious when he finds Eli has been hired and demands that Eli reject the job offer, but he won’t say why. Silence is how Eli’s family deals with the unpleasant.
Eli’s long-time girlfriend Viv has never met Eli’s father and has certainly never met Eli’s mother. To do so, Eli would have to reveal that his mother has been institutionalized for years with a devastating degenerative disease. Eli has talents and abilities that he hides from Viv, but somehow his new boss, Dr. Wyatt knows about them from the very beginning. What can make Dr. Wyatt be so fascinated with Eli? And why is Eli’s father so irate? Enter the twists of the Double Helix.

Reviewer's Name: Renee
The Martian
Weir, Andy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Every moment of this book is stricken with intense worry, suspense and intrigue! I loved every minute of it. Weir never lets you feel confident in how the events pan out, which is stressful to say the list. But that is a good quality of an action novel. It's smart, funny and powerful.

Reviewer's Name: Cassie
Breaking Dawn
Meyer, Stephenie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Breaking Dawn is the fourth and last book in the Twilight Saga. This book is about Bella, a normal girl, who is worried about her wedding with her soon to be husband Edward, a vampire. Though all of Bella's worrying is for nothing, their honeymoon was nothing short of a disaster. Their love story continues, who will survive? Out of 1(bad) - 5(awesome) I would rate this book a 5 because I love the romance and action in this book and it has a ton of detail, so I can picture everything that happens. I read this book because I loved the previous books in the series.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
Awards:
Roller Girl
Jamieson, Victoria
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Roller Girl is a graphic novel about two best friends who did everything together till the summer before high school. Astrid, the tough one of the girls, signs up for roller derby camp while Nicole, the shy one, signs up for dance camp. Will their friendship survive? Out of 1(bad) - 5(great) I would rate this book a 3 because I liked how the antagonist was hard to find even though there were two rival groups. I personally do not like graphic novels because they don't give enough written detail, so for some people this book would be a 4 or 5. The reason I read this book is because my languages art teacher recommended the book and it sounded good, so I gave it a try. I recommend this book to people who like graphic novels and roller derby.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
Shadow Spinner
Fletcher, Susan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

“Shadow Spinner” is a book based on an old legend that some intellectuals say began in India, although evidence seems to point to a Persian book of fairy tales. The original story tells of a Sultan who, after finding his wife with another man, chooses to believe that all women are deceitful. As cruel revenge to womankind, he marries a new girl every night and then kills her when morning dawns. One night his latest new wife, Shahrazad, begs to tell her younger sister, Dunyazad, one last story before the Sultan executes her the next day. The Sultan agrees and finds he enjoys the tale, but he is dismayed when it is not finished by morning. So he lets Shahrazad live to finish the story the next night. But it turns out that she also has time to weave another new tale but does not complete it either. And so she is allowed to live yet again.This continues. But how long will Shahrazad be able to keep telling her life-saving stories? Here the author of “Shadow Spinner” decides to give the legend her own
twist. Enter young Marjan, a servant.
Marjan is a young servant girl who will probably never find a husband. Who would want to marry a girl with a crippled foot?. Marjan was not born this way. Her mother purposely dropped a heavy pot on Marjan’s foot so the Sultan would never choose her for a wife. Although her mother did this for her daughter’s protection, Marjan feels furious towards her mother. She is especially angry because, after maiming her daughter for life, her mother drank poison like a coward. Throughout the book we catch glimpses of what this hot rage has done to Marjan and how she carries this grudge with her always.
One day Marjan and her mistress, Auntie Chava, enter into the Sultan’s harem to sell jewelry to the women who live there. Because she is so skilled at telling stories to the children of the harem women, she is approached by Dunyazad, who tells Marjan that Shahrazad is desperate for more stories. She has told the stories in every book that the Sultan owns and told all the tales she’s heard. She begs Marjan to tell a new story. Marjan agrees, and Dunyazad leads her to Shahrazad where she is asked to retell the tale. But before it is over Shahrazad frowns and says that she does remembers telling that same story already. She asks Marjan to tell another. Marjan consents to the queen’s request,but story after story she tells is rejected. At last she tells one that is new to Shahrazad. Grateful for Marjan’s help, Shahrazad asks her to come live in the harem so that she can continue to help provide her with stories that can save all the young women's lives. Knowing she will be forbidden to depart, Marjan is upset to be leaving her beloved Auntie Chava forever. But she is honored to know that Shahrazad needs her help.
One morning some time later, after Marjan has already been living in the harem for a while, Shahrazad tells Marjan that the Sultan loved her story and Marjan is overjoyed to hear that the tale was one that the Sultan was familiar with already and loved very much. But she is dismayed when Shahrazad asks for the rest of the narrative so that she can tell it to the Sultan, who wants to hear it the next night. It is a matter of life and death. Marjan tells Shahrazad that she doesn’t know the rest; she only heard the beginning from a blind storyteller out in the marketplace one day. But Shahrazad must have the story or the displeased Sultan may kill her. And so Marjan is smuggled out of the harem in the mornings in search of the blind storyteller so that she can learn the rest of the tale. Every evening she sneaks back to the harem empty-handed.
Shahrazad tides the Sultan over with other tales but knows that she must soon have the ending rest of the storyteller’s story to placate the ruler. Over the course of her search, Marjan discovers the Sultan’s mother has plotted to make her son angry with Shahrazad so that he will kill her. She wants to make her own servant queen. But her most shocking, discovery is the fact that Shahrazad loves her husband despite what he’s done to the young women of his city. When Marjan asks Shahrazad how she can possibly love a man like the Sultan, Shahrazad states this profound truth: “There’s nothing wrong with loving someone. It’s hating - that’s what’s wrong.” It is then that Marjan finally realizes her hatred toward her own mother is wrong. She must learn to forgive her for what she has done. In the midst of all this, the search for the storyteller goes on. But the Sultan’s mother is trying harder than ever to catch Shahrazad, Dunyazad, and Marjan in doing something wrong. Eventually, all three of them, along with a kind, elderly woman and helpful old man, are going to be killed. Marjan thinks she knows how to change the Sultan’s mind, but will she really be able to save everyone she has come to love so dearly?
I found this book to be a gripping tale, and enjoyed the deep message of love and healing shown throughout. Shahrazad’s mission to help the Sultan mend from where he has been hurt by his treacherous first wife is admirable and Marjan’s personal struggles are relatable. How does one find it in their heart to love someone who has hurt them (mentally or physically)? A fun, well-written story, but one that makes you think - “Shadow Spinner” is a beautiful re-imagining of a classic legend.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Cosette P.

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