All Book Reviews
Sabriel's titular character is a teen studying magic who must investigate a mysterious message from her father, a famous necromancer known as Abhorsen. Abhorsen is a unique necromancer in that he banishes the dead, instead of summoning them. However, finding him may prove more difficult that Sabriel hopes.
Best Parts (No Spoilers): Sabriel treats death seriously, and this is one of the things this book does best. It is difficult to explain this without spoiling the book, but grief of many kinds is throughly explored here.
Sabriel also presents a richly detailed high fantasy world. Many people know Charter magic, a kind of all purpose magic, and Sabriel encounters all kinds of fantastic creatures. These range from a flying paper airplane big enough to carry Sabriel and her friends; Mogget, a sassy cat; and terrifying horrors from the Gates of Death.
Sabriel leaves the reader wanting more of this fantastic world. The beginning takes its time, letting the reader soak in the mysterious events and landscape Sabriel encounters on the way to her father's house. However, after the main characters discover a nefarious plot, they rush back through this scenery. I assume Nix did this to make his ending fight scene seem more dynamic, but I wish the Deus Ex Machina did not feature so heavily in the ending.
Read More: Thankfully, Nix has written other great books set in the same world, although around 20-30 years after Sabriel. Liriel is one of them and features another intriguing animal companion. The Charlie Bone series could also be a series for readers interested in similar themes.
Score: I had read Sabriel before and wanted to revisit it. I read the paperback edition, featuring new cover art (the previous cover art was done by the award-winning duo Leo and Diane Dillon) of a fiery symbol. I guess this is supposed to be a Charter Mark, which Charter Mages have on their foreheads? The book was just as good as when I read it years ago, and I actually think I appreciate it more reading it now. This is why I suggested Adults read this book as it does deal with some mature themes (Death, desire for power, grief). There is a hint of romance, though it does not play a major role in the book. Sabriel is a strong female heroine. I did not rate this book 5 stars since it isn't perfect (the ending felt rushed), but the series as a whole is definitely Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!
The Demigod Diaries is a fun collection of short stories that bring you back into Percy Jackson's world with new adventures. Luke Castellan, son of Hermes, tells his story for the first time in "The Diary of Luke Castellan". Argo II members Leo Valdez, Jason Grace, and Piper McLean go on a search for a missing item and wind up finding trouble within the forest of Camp Half-Blood. Rick Riordan's son, Haley, also includes a demigod story of his own.
Overall, this book was lots of fun. Each story was interesting, adventurous, and packed with humor. I especially loved hearing more about Luke's past, as his character in the first series didn't have much time to tell his story. Leo's adventure is hilarious and fun. Haley's story was well-written, but I felt it was a little serious, considering the rest of the stories are more light-hearted. Nevertheless, this book is wonderful. I highly recommend it if you are a fan of the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series.
Reviewer Grade: 9
I love watching true crime on tv and decided to finally read a book in that genre. I chose Ann Rule because she was the queen of true crime writing. This particular book was a compilation of some of the stories she had written about. I was engrossed right away and couldn't put it down. I now know why Ann Rule's books are so popular. In the first story "The Deputy's Wife", she survives her ordeal, but it was scary reading about it. I like that Ann added resources for victims of domestic abuse at the end of this story. The other story that I am still thinking about is "The Truck Driver's Wife". I won't give details, but it truly is a mystery!
I wasn't sure what to expect when I starting reading this book. I did know it was an international best seller and it was translated from French. I was pleasantly surprised by it! I do think the book could have been edited a bit more. It's a mystery set in 2008. So the presidential election is at the backdrop of the main story. When you are reading it, you find that the mystery is a love story. But as it unfolds, you find out there is alot of trickery going on. At times, the investigation into what happened to Nola was very repetitive. Also, the bits between Marcus and his mother could have been cut out entirely as well as the parts about the 2008 presidential election. Neither really progressed the story. But I liked how Dicker wrote his characters and I did like the twists to the mystery. But I wasn't crazy how things were tied up neatly in a bow at the end. But I do think the mystery and the process of solving it and proving Harry innocent was engrossing. If you like mysteries and want something easy to read, I would recommend The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair.
Actual Rating: 4.3
I originally discovered this book on a list of titles recommended by John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska. Katherine Boo’s incredible work revolves around “life, death, and hope in a Mumbai under city.” It follows several characters as they struggle to survive life in rural India: Abdul, a Muslim teenager who provides an income to his large family through collecting and selling trash, Asha, a woman with dreams of escaping poverty through politics, Kalu, a scrap metal thief, and dozens of others who live together in a small village built near the Mumbai airport. While this book may not be as relateable as many that are popular now, it brings humanity to a group of people we tend to see as “other” due to their distance and situation. This book changed the way I look at people below the poverty line, and I highly recommend it.
Reviewer Grade: 9
The Kiss was as supernatural as Wisteria and Whitford Allgood. I couldn't put this book down as Wisty took us on an emotional journey through a boyfriend and a few betrayals. Whit carries us up and down mountains and on the way a few deaths place a few more burdens upon his heavy shoulders. Though it lost action in the beginning, it quickly picked up the pace with some magic and a mysterious biker boy. Another fight, another betrayal, and a fearful mother trying to protect her son.
But it doesn't end there, the last book The Lost sits waiting for me to read and I can't wait to see what happens to Whit, Wisty, and their city. After the horrific events that took place on the mountain above the city, I wonder what will happen next. I would recommend this book for ages 12+, and I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Reviewer Grade: 6
This memoir follows the tumultuous childhood of the author with upheaval and hardships almost too extreme to believe. Through living in extreme poverty, being in real danger medically, emotionally, and physically, Jeannette expresses her constant determination and shows how she copes with and still has deep love for her dysfunctional family. I finished this book very quickly because it is very hard to put down.
Imagine waking up from a high school party to find that all of your friends now littering the house around you attracting flies. Then you hear a noise and realize you are not alone. Upon exploring the house you discover your friend chained to a bed and a vampire chained beside him—just out of reach. What happened while you were blacked out in the bathroom is a chilling story. Readers might find it shocking, but for Tana vampire attacks are an all-too-common occurrence. Not all of the monsters can be contained in the Coldtowns created to preserve the vampires and protect the population. The all-night parties within the walls are streamed live as reality entertainment that gives the vampires a rock-star quality. Those who escape are featured on the daily bounty hunter programs. These parallels to real life, as well as the characterizations of the vampires make them seem approachable and almost amiable. How close can Tana get before she is in danger?
Linh Cinder is unusual. Her stepsisters and stepmother hate her. Her best friend is an android. Oh, and she’s a cyborg – and she wants to go to the ball. Politics, adventure, and a deadly plague all play roles in this book.
Cinder was fun and exciting. Cinder is a protagonist you can really root for. Prince Kai is complex and interesting – he’s more than just the love interest. Queen Levana is a great creepy villain. The futuristic sci-fi world of New Beijing is expansive and really quite interesting. The plot moved at a very fast pace.
I only have one complaint: the plot twists were a little predictable. But, besides that, it is a fun and interesting book! I have yet to read the rest of the series, but I really think they’re going to be spectacular based on what I’ve seen from this awesome book.
Reviewer Grade: 9
Charles Frasier’s novel Cold Mountain intrigued me from the beginning. It tells the story of Ada and Inman who both have suffered from their own tragedies and horrors from the beginning of the novel. Inman is scarred emotionally and physically from serving in the Civil War. Ada is left with the family farm after her father dies and having been raised sophisticated, she has no idea how to maintain it. However, each is able to overcome their trials and defy society’s expectations in pursuit of each other and their own dreams. The characters in this novel are both so relatable in the idea that we all experience horrible, sad things that we must learn to overcome and we also all face limitations and expectations from society that we must ignore in order to embark on our own journey in pursuit of our own American Dream. Although long and a bit tedious at points, this novel is definitely one of the best I’ve read this year.
Reviewer Grade: 11
Mark Twain’s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has caused controversy over the years about whether it should be taught in schools. I personally, feel this book is one of the single most powerful novels written concerning prejudice, racism and the American Dream. It tells the story of a boy Huck Finn who escapes his abusive father and begins a journey down the Mississippi River where he soon joins with Jim, a runaway slave. Huck repeatedly faces the decision between turning Jim in as society has taught him or continuing to help him escape and lie as his conscious urges him to. Ultimately, Twain uses satire and Huck’s adventures to reveal the truth about the remaining prejudices in society and the idea that people need to think independently from society in order to preserve morals.
Reviewer Grade: 11
The novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is by far one of my very favorite. It tells the story of Daisy Buchanan and Mr. Jay Gatsby through the Nick, the narrator and a recent Yale graduate’s conscious. He opens the book recalling a piece of advice his father gave him about refraining from criticizing others. Nick views himself as separate yet apart of the world he creates for us. He becomes fascinated by his neighbor Mr. Jay Gatsby who throws lavish and extravagant parties and is known all through New York yet still seems dissatisfied with his lifestyle. After observing him staring longingly at a green light across the bay, Nick learns Gatsby has been pining after Daisy, who is married to Tom, for years since their young love was interrupted when he left for the war. Fitzgerald uses the historical context of the 20’s and the idea of disillusionment popular post WWI to create a novel that explored the society and lifestyle of the time and the human nature to yearn for both the past and the out of reach.
Reviewer Grade: 11
Wow. This book sucked. Stifled teenager runs away from loving family to escape abusive boyfriend. Why did she do this? Because she met a homeless boy whom she thought could 'save' her from this situation. Seriously?! How about having the abused girl save herself?! Homelessness is romanticized as she becomes part of a loving rascally unkempt band of misfits. Okay folks, let's get this straight. Being homeless sucks. If you have a loving family, like the main character does, there is no reason at all to be homeless. The main character is annoying and overly melodramatic. In fact, all of the characters are two dimensional and stereotypical, without exception. The symbolism is pedestrian and heavy handed. Even the "shocking" elements of the story seemed to be put in there as if the author was thinking,"Ooh, this is shocking! Let me put it in here to prove how edgy this novel is!" The ending was contrived and very unrealistic for a supposedly realistic novel.
Usually I won't finish a book this crappy, but I felt compelled to do so in this case just to have the satisfaction of skewering it. I do feel better having done so.
E-format only, thankfully.
You know, I love Katherine Patterson. Bridge to Terabithia is my all-time favorite children's book. This book just didn't affect me the same way. Maybe it was the subject matter, I don't know. It was well written, just was missing the magic. But it's still worth a read.
Pretty amazing book. I didn't know too much about the Hindenburg, but the author described everything so well I felt like I was right there! I love that she based the stories off of real people, after I finished the book I went to the website she recommended and read more about the people I "met" in the novel. I also viewed the footage, and it's hard to believe anyone survived that horrible inferno. Great novel!
Very unique book - I loved the characterization, and although the plot could be a little slow at points, it allowed you to fully immerse yourself in this strange, confusing world. What I think I loved most about the book was that it was more than just a love story. I really liked the fact that Natalie was learning to love herself for being different. She had a strong best friend who loved her no matter what kind of stories she was told, and she had a family who adored her. This is a book I know I will be thinking about for a while!
Wow. Another amazing historical novel by Ms. Sepetys. At first I wasn't sure about the short chapters that alternated by point of view, but by the end I didn't even notice. Beautiful writing, emotional story of a tragedy that I'm sure most people aren't even aware of. Good grief, I'm wrung out after reading this beautiful novel.
The world is burning, one person at a time. A new sort of plague, a spore known colloquially as Dragonscale, is infecting hundreds of thousands around the globe. It begins with something small. It gets into your head. It grows. You feel fine until you see it on your skin-a small stripe, like a gold-flecked stain. You might even mistake it for a bruise at first. But then you know you have it. You know that you’re going to burn, and it’s only a question of when. No one knows exactly how it spreads, and there’s no sign of a cure short of being killed before you ignite. You’ll smoke a bit first, and then you’ll combust, unless someone decides to end your life before then.
In the midst of the chaos is Harper Willowes, a Portsmouth nurse who sincerely wishes for nothing more than to be able to help others through the crisis. She volunteers her services caring for the infected while her husband Jakob works for the Public Works Department, helping to clean up the devestation left behind by the burning infected. It’s at work that Harper first meets the Fireman. He brings a child in for treatment, not for the Dragonscale covering him, but for a ruptured appendix. After the boy, Nick, is taken in for surgery, the Fireman vanishes. A few days later, Nick is gone as well, leaving only questions in his wake. Then, disaster strikes and the Portsmouth Hospital burns to the ground. Harper escapes, but soon makes two discoveries. She’s pregnant and she has the ‘scale. Believing himself to be infected as well, Jakob snaps and Harper is forced to flee for her life and that of her unborn child.
When all seems lost, the Fireman intervenes. He rescues Harper from Jakob’s pursuit and secrets her away to a small camp where over a hundred and fifty infected are living in hiding, including Nick. Living and thriving, to Harper’s great surprise. While there’s no cure for the spore, the people of the camp have found a way to live in harmony with the Dragonscale, under the leadership of Nick’s grandfather. Harper’s medical skills quickly make her indispensable. The camp, however, is no paradise. As panic grips the nation, marauders seek to eliminate any infected. Harper only wants to survive long enough to deliver her baby, but internal power struggles in the camp threaten to expose them all to the roving Cremation Crews. The Fireman may be the only one who can save them all, but he hides a dark secret of his own.
Joe Hill takes on an apocalypse of his own, one that rivals The Stand in scope and violence (not to mention pop culture references). As the world around them burns, his characters must face the fact that other humans may be a greater threat to them than the Dragonscale ever was. The Fireman is a hell of a ride from beginning to end, and is every bit as intense as the flames it evokes. Go check it out.
Nice idea, not especially well executed, but serviceable nevertheless. Penniless but daring young Abigail Rook is stuck in New England when she meets an eccentric private detective named Jackaby. He specializes in supernatural deduction using an ability to see what other people can't -- faeries, monsters, etc. He is also in need of an assistant. When a very odd murder occurs, Jackaby and Abigail are on the case. Who is the murderer? Can our heroes stop the killer in time to save innocent lives? And will we ever learn what Jackaby's initials stand for? At best, it's a really laudable middle-grade supernatural mystery. Unfortunately, Jackaby himself falls rather flat. He seems to be a collection of quirks and mannerisms borrowed from more famous characters. Abigail is by no means and ideal character, but she is independent in a way that many female protagonists aren't. There are several appealing secondary characters -- one of whom is a ghost -- who were a bit more unusual, but on the whole, this book does not have the most intriguing cast, although it does try very hard. The plot itself is reasonably interesting, but suffers from the same malady as the characterizations: originality, or rather, lack thereof. Anyone who's familiar with folklore (or has read Harry Potter) has a good chance at guessing the identities of the murderer and other characters long before the big reveal. If you want a lightweight, easy-read fantasy-mystery with some fun characters and fairly witty dialogue, you'll probably like it, but for really intense murder mystery fans, look elsewhere.
Reviewer Grade: 12
Witch and Wizard is an extravagant book for young adults and teens. From a kidnapping to an evil tyrant, Whit and Wisty Allgood can't accept the fact that they are the children from the proficy, the children with powers, the children destined to save and rule the world. James Patterson takes his readers on an adventure that you can't put down. This book was unpredictable and left me wanting more from the very beginning. This is one of the best books of I have read since fourth grade and I've read a lot. On my free time I will go to a bookstore and grab as many books as my arms can carry and this time I tried to find as many James Patterson books as I could and this book was yelling my name from across the room. This book captivated me within just the first paragraph. The language and content flashbacks kept me engaged to the end. Whit and Wisty will do much more than keep you intrigued, they will keep you close through the whole series. I would rate this book five of five stars and I would recommend this book to teens from ages 11-15.
Reviewer Grade: 5