All Book Reviews
It seems like a typical day on her small, icy planet when Kady breaks up with her boyfriend Ezra. Little does she know, hours later she'll save Ezra's life when a megacorporation attacks their planet. The survivors of the attack are picked up by a passing fleet and Ezra and Kady are separated. As the two teens are trained to fill the staffing gaps on the military fleet, Kady begins to notice that the commanders are hiding a virus on one of the transport vessels which puts the safety of the whole fleet at risk. Soon, Kady finds herself reaching out to Ezra in an attempt to gain more information on the effects of the virus.
Illuminae tells a great story with the right mix of humor, code speak, and action. A unique premise and the authors’ attention to detail lead to a well-developed sci-fi world. The excellent story is enhanced by the inventive format – the novel reads like an investigative report made up of IM conversations, journal entries, and scientific reports.
The interesting format allows for the authors to provide a variety of relatable perspectives. Even though they’re living in a galactic warzone, Ezra and Kady provide a realistic and often humorous picture of a complicated relationship. The authors manage to make their interactions feel realistic despite the fact that Ezra and Kady never inhabit the same physical space at any time in the book. While Ezra and Kady are excellent characters, Kaufman and Kristoff have developed a varied cast of secondary characters which provide humor and empathy to the story.
Illuminae will appeal to a variety of sci-fi fans. It includes elements of intergalactic warfare and intrigue similar to Star Wars, apocalyptic elements along the lines of The Fifth Wave, strong kids and teens as savior figures like Enders Game, and survival instincts and humor along the lines of The Martian. Pick up Illuminae for a funny, fascinating read!
Nick Hall has everything going for him: he's doing well in school, he's got a solid flirtation going with his crush (or...limerence as it were), and most importantly, he made the soccer travel team. And so, of course, everything starts to go wrong. His parents separate, he starts to get bullied and his best friend ends up on a soccer team 30 miles away.
Booked is absolutely in no way the type of book I would normally pick up, but despite that, I thought it was fantastic. It's a sports fiction novel written in verse neither of which are my thing, but man, I get why Crossover won that Newbery if it was anything like this. In very few words, Alexander manages to develop complex characters, create humor, and develop and subsequently neatly (a little too neatly, perhaps, but hey, it is a book for kids) tie up several plot lines. Oh! And the words! There is a fun little subplot in which Nick's dad wrote a dictionary, and it leads to some really awesome word play. I also learned a few new fun vocabulary words to throw around.
Anyway, my final thought is really just...wow. I'm impressed. I'll definitely be booktalking this one. And even though, like I said, it's not my thing AT ALL, I'll probably read Crossover, Alexander's other book. 5 stars.
Marley and Me is an amusing nonfiction novel that captures all of the adventures of John Grogan as he gets his dog Marley: a canine intent on misbehaving and causing as much destruction as he can. Marley raided the trash, stole and swallowed a gold necklace, closed a public beach, got kicked out of obedience school, and was the Grogans' best friend. Marley and Me is filled with humor, compassion, and love for the chaotic and affectionate dog. It's a very well-written book, and now I feel better about my own dog, who enjoys chewing the couch.
Amory Ames has left her philandering husband for a vacation by the sea with her erstwhile fiance on the pretense of talking his younger sister out of marrying her dastardly fiance. After a day of vacation, the dastardly fiance is murdered and the erstwhile fiance is suspect #1. Amory is convinced her old fiance is innocent, and works to clear his name.
At first, I was not at all sold on this book. The beginning is very slow and weighed down by constant descriptions of the sartorial choices of the many characters. The main character also initially comes off as a bit of a prickly doormat. Fortunately, about halfway through the book, the pacing picks up, the story gets really interesting, and our main character gets much less annoying. Her relationship with her husband, however, never ceases to be annoying because...did people not talk to each other in 1930s England? It was an unapologetically unhealthy relationship that was ultimately frustrating to read and was left (purposefully) unresolved at the end.
I don't read a ton of mysteries, but this one ended up being a lot of fun! Its kind of like an old school mystery where there is a cast of characters/suspects in one setting and you KNOW one of them did it...but which one? Based on what other readers have said, it's Agatha Christie-esque. I was able to guess the "who" but not the "why", and the book ended up being entertaining enough that I immediately checked out the sequel, Death Wears a Mask. I'd recommend it to mystery lovers who like their mysteries with a historical setting and a touch of fashion. 3 stars.
A Work in Progress is an inspiring and well thought book for his targeted audience. Connor Franta is a well known YouTuber and this book is a memoir of his life. It goes in depth about his past, present, future, fears, etc. Connor is trying to find himself and he tells his readers to do the same. The concept of this autobiography is beautiful because he reaches out to the viewers and audience who have the same or similar struggles like him and helps the people who are having a hard time finding themselves in the world. Reading this book rethinks how you want to live your life and reach for your goals.
Reviewer Grade: 12
The Lost Hero is a Percy Jackson series with new characters but without Percy himself. I loved the third person point of view and the three point of views from Piper, Leo, and Jason. Even though it is written in third person, the main targeted character is specialized well and in detail. Jason goes on adventures and quests without knowing himself which adds to the strong character development he will obtain later in the book. Greek and Roman mythology are perfectly mushed into this book. Riordan took aspects from the original Percy Jackson book and altered them to fit the plot of this book. This is not a five star because the story itself felt a little too similar to The Lightning Thief.
Reviewer Grade: 12
I loved this book because it was a spin-off of the Divergent series. If you like dystopia and a different point of view, this book is just for you. The book goes in detail of Tobias Eaton's life in four different sections or chapters. I think it's amazing to be able to look into another character's background, especially after reading all three Divergent books in Tris' point of view. In the novella, you get to see Four's abnegation side before he moved to Dauntless. You see how scared he was and the steps that make him who he is later in the book. There is a lot of foreshadowing to compare to the original books and the spin-off. The reason why I gave it a four stars though, is because I felt as if Four could've had more emotion and thought because when I read it, it felt as if I was just reading the behind the scenes and not how he was REALLY feeling.
Reviewer Grade: 12
This book definitely deserves its Newbery Honor Award. It tells an intricate story about a girl moving to a small town called Manifest in a captivating way. At the end of every chapter, I was left wanting more. The author didn't tell you everything and you had to piece the clues together. I liked that there is a point of view of someone during WWI because usually books are set in WWII. I recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction.
After the 18th amendment passed, magic became illegal. Shine, an addictive hallucinogen created as a by-product of sorcery, is the main reason behind the prohibition. So, of course, a seedy underworld of gangsters trafficking in shine immediately springs up, and it is embroiled in this underworld that our two main protagonists, Joan and Alex, accidentally and not-so-accidentally find themselves. As they are both sorcerers, Joan and Alex must figure out how to use their sorcery to survive the crime syndicate and it's machinations.
This is a fun fantasy read that is fairly original in it's premise and setting, with likable and believable characters. The premise does most of the heavy lifting, as gangs set in the 1920s trafficking magic gives Kelly lot to work with. She doesn't disappoint. The gangsters are pretty fearsome and the body count ratchets up quickly. The pacing is tight, and the magic is both deadly and beautiful. Joan is a performer, and the descriptions of the performances themselves are somewhat bewitching.
I did have a few problems with the book. First, while the two main characters were fleshed out and developed, almost none of the other characters got any development, and those that did were then basically ignored for the rest of the book. So when the secondary characters started dying, I didn't really care all that much. And then there's the relationship between Joan and Alex. I didn't mind it at first, but it did that thing that relationships in books often do of getting too serious too fast. It's not instalove, but it's instalove's cousin or something. I also felt that aspects of the 20s were wasted on this book - I wanted more flappers, insane clothing, and awesome music. We really only got the gangsters and the cigarette smoking.
For all it's problems, this fantasy novel was ultimately a great read. The ending was pitch perfect, and left the door open for a sequel. I'd recommend it to light fantasy readers looking for something without a ton of substance that is endlessly entertaining and a little different. I'd probably give it something like 3.5 stars, but since that's not an option, we'll go with 4. I quite liked it.
A fishing book about an incredible woman fly fisherman.
An exhilarating novel that puts you directly into the shoes of young October Guinness in a race against time and a fight against the government. When a man named Lance Palmer comes to October in her small New Orleans abode, she expects he's a good guy with his claim of being with the FBI, but she couldn't be more wrong. With motivation and determination, Lance Palmer and his crew will do anything to get rid of October because of her unique talent that could potentially leak extremely confidential information regarding the well being of the globe. Will she be able to ever live a normal life again? Will she ever outrun her past? With the help of ex-special ops and CIA agent, Jax Alexander, she just might. With gripping current events and a sense of constant danger, this book is extremely eye-opening and thrilling.
Reviewers Grade: 12
All Dillon ever wanted to do was dance. His dance crew would never teach him more moves, and his dad didn't approve, so when opportunity knocked he auditioned for a scholarship to one of the best dance academy's in his city; Dance-Splosion. He enters the competition, but his friends don't approve. This book was not your typical high school movie, it shared some qualities, but was still great. This book deserves a 4/5.
Reviewer Grade: 7
Each day a new face appears on the milk carton. No one gives it much thought. Especially not plain old Janie Johnson. Until one day she sees HER picture on the milk carton. After this she works hard to discover the truth. This book will give you chills of suspense. The book was bit strange at parts, but the overall plot was amazing. I give it a 3/5.
Reviewer Grade: 7
On her way to Ohio to find her mother Salamanca, and her grandparents journey across the country to get there. On the way Sal tells the story of Phoebe Winterbottom a peculiar girl she met. I rate this a 5/5. The hidden messages really gives this book depth. Such as the irrationality of Phoebe, but also how Sal can understand her friend. They don't have a perfect relationship, which makes it very realistic. I recommend you read this, it's filled with suspense, action, and drama you won't be able to put it down.
Reviewer Grade: 7
It's late August, 2005, Armani Curtis can think nothing more about her tenth birthday, not even warnings of the storm can shake her, that is until she see's her parents shaken up. Suddenly, the party she has been waiting for, has to be cancelled, and Armani finds herself in the middle of Hurricane Katrina, stuck in the attic, and is floating around the whole city of New Orleans.
And just when it seems nothing could get worse, water and supplies are running out, her brother isn't able to breath, now her brother and father are stuck in the water somewhere, and she is stuck in the middle of nowhere without her mother. Now Armani needs to be responsible more than ever, and make the decision to stay put as her mother had told her or leave her mother behind and get on a bus to somewhere far away with her sisters and brother, without almost half her family.
I read this book because I wanted to understand what it would've felt like to be in Hurricane Katrina, the author also get's through to the reader's emotions, but also revisits a historic event that changed a lot of people's life.
Reviewer Age: 12
Ellen Carrol, wakes up one morning to find a silver crown on her bed, but as soon as she leaves her home, she finds that her house burns down, along with her family, and she even witnesses a murder by someone with black clothes and green shoes.
Suddenly, she is on a journey to find her Aunt Sarah who is her only family left, but on the way there she escapes a kidnapper (several times), and meets an 8 year old named Otto. She then continues the rest of the journey, along with Otto, while being chased by the kidnapper (who happens to be the man with black clothes and green shoes).
Otto and Ellen then find a strange place, where there Otto is taken, and Ellen is willing to risk herself to find Otto and get out of that place. But if she does, she might never be able to get out of whatever this place is, and if she doesn't she could possibly still be in danger of the kidnapper that searches for her crown, that she still has no idea why, and what it is.
This book, Silver Crown, shows a lot of mystery, and adventure which is mostly why I read this book, but it also comes with things that you think happened for this reason, but it actually was because of this reason. If you like to read adventure or mystery books, this book is the right one for you.
Reviewer Grade: 12
Beautiful Creatures introduces 2 characters who end up being helpful to each other in a small town called Gatlin.
Ethan Wates, has a dream to leave Gatlin, and go explore the world, as long as it's as far as possible from Gatlin. But, he keeps having the strangest dream about a beautiful girl, who knows him, and he hasn't even met her.
Lena Duchannes, just moved to Gatlin, and is struggling to hide her power that keeps on growing stronger because of a curse that has cursed her family for centuries.
When Ethan, first see's Lena, he is suddenly interested in her, and tries to find out who she is. But when he finally discovers what she has been trying to hide, he puts himself in a puzzle that he refuses to get out of because of his love for her. With school, home, and the curse, this story has a ending, that could change there lives forever.
I liked reading this book because it always had an adventure, but also added mystery at the beginning and towards the end of the story. But it could've been better if the author of this book could've added more suspense at the beginning of the book.
Reviewer Grade: 12
The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour is the story of the twelfth
century adventurer Mathurin Kerbouchard and his journey to find and rescue his father who had been captured at sea. His journey takes him all across Europe and into the Muslim world, a world of culture and science that is much different than the squalid life of Europe. It is a lively story, full of exciting characters, vivid description of life in the Middle Ages, and daring exploits that climax at the infamous Valley of the Assassins. Throughout the book are many historical facts thrown in by Kerbouchard as he narrates his travels which I found interesting, but someone who is simply looking for an adventure book might find them tedious. I would definitely recommend this book to someone who loves history and travel, because it satisfied some of my own wanderlust with its vivid description of the splendors of an age long gone.
Reviewer Grade: 11
Neil Flambe may be a very annoying person, but at least he's got his nose and his talent for cooking to back it up. But then all the sudden his talent starts to take a turn for the worse. At his restaurant, Chez Flambe, all of his food is being taken back, he get's complaints from his costumers, and all the sudden his restaurant has been forced to close down due to reports of food poisoning. Then to add on to all of his problems, Neil discovers that there is a family curse that has stopped Flambe chef's for centuries. Now he is being forced to go into a chef cook-off and could lose everything if he makes one mistake. Neil suddenly has stepped into a mess that even, he thinks, he can't cook his way out of.
I picked this book because as I first read this book, I couldn't put it down.
The author pulled me into all of the problems of the story making me engaged in the story quickly and slowly showing me how it was going to end.
Reviewer Grade: 8
This is one of my favorite books because it is a true story and it shows that you are not the only one that goes through hard situations. Smile is about a girl and how she needs braces and she is not looking forward to that and on top of that a horrible accident happens making it so that she needs to do more with her mouth than just get braces. She also goes through friend problems, boy problems, and the problems of peer pressure from the people around her. I like it because the problems are not about one person that saves the world it is about one girl going through real life problems.
Reviewer Grade: 8