Goodreads Choice Award/Nominee

Book Review: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel
Author: 
Clare, Cassandra
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Killing the SS

Killing the SS
Author: 
O'Reilly, Bill, Dugard, Martin
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Love and Gelato

Love and Gelato
Author: 
Welch, Jenna Evans
Rating: 
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

Book Review: A Closed and Common Orbit

A Closed and Common Orbit
Author: 
Chambers, Becky
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

After the refreshing sci-fi The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet , I was ready to follow the crew of the Wayfarer to their next adventure. Unfortunately, the sequel, A Closed and Common Orbit, decided to take a path more akin to The Godfather Part II (1974). Instead of following the main characters of the first story, this sequel delved into the new life of the AI now known as Sidra, while also interspersing a quasi-related prequel story of one of the new characters introduced in this book. Fortunately, these two stories were well paced against each other.

Even though I feel readers could pick up this book without having read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, there are certainly a few details about the diverse races found in this universe left out of this book—probably for the sake of brevity. This didn’t necessarily detract from the enjoyment of A Closed and Common Orbit, but having that previous knowledge certainly helped to bring these alien creatures to life in my mind. Still, the main characters are basically humans, so the interactions with the aliens would be the main reason to know how these creatures communicate.

While this book is only tangentially related to the one that proceeded it in the series, the universe the author has created is solid enough to support a few more additional stories like the ones found here. With fewer characters to focus on in this book, A Closed and Common Orbit was able to dive deep into some pretty heavy topics, including child slavery and artificial intelligence. The writing still retains its casual dialogue style that genuinely helped bring these few characters to life. If anything, the author’s writing is what will keep me coming back to this series.

A mostly unrelated, but still expertly written sequel, I give A Closed and Common Orbit 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: To All The Boys I've Loved Before

To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: 
Han, Jenny
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Over the summer, I, like many teens, watched and loved the Netflix original movie, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. After watching the movie, I knew I had to read Jenny Han’s book which the movie was based upon. Although I discovered this book because of the movie, I will try and focus on the book alone for this review.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a teen romance novel about young Lara Jean, a high school daydreamer who writes love letters to the boys she has crushes on. She never sends out the letters though, they’re just for her to write so she can let out her feelings and move on from her crush. Lara Jean writes 5 letters and the story begins when they mysteriously get sent out to each of the boys. Lara Jean then has to deal with the stress and drama of it all.

The book was a fun read. It was very easy to get through, and the story was fun and not the most predictable. Lara Jean is a great character and you can’t help but love her. In fact, all of the characters are great and they really do bring the book together. However, if cheesy romantic books are not for you, then neither is this book. Although the book is not your classic love story, it is still pretty mushy, for lack of a better word. Also, it is pretty unrealistic. If you want a love story you can relate to, I doubt this one will do. Another aspect is that the book is not deep or though-provoking in the slightest. This book is only for those who want an easy, light read that they don’t have to think much about; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all. Overall, the characters were great and the story was enjoyable.

It wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t much more than an entertaining story.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ashlyn P

Book Review: The Serpent King

Book Review: The Serpent King
Author: 
Zentner, Jeff
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Dillard Early is the son of a snake handling preacher that is in prison for child pornography. He and his two best friends, Travis and Lydia, struggle to survive in small town Tennessee, where they clearly don't belong.

This is not your typical young adult book. The story defies the genre by containing minimal (although some) naval gazing and overt attempts at being angsty and hip. The story is real and the subject matter interesting. Who doesn't want to hear about snake handlers in the deep south? The twist in the middle was surprising, but I was a bit disappointed by how it occurred. Overall, darn good for young adult fiction. I listened to it on audio and it was fantastically well done.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: 
Albertalli, Becky
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

"Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is about a student named Simon who is 17 and is closeted. He emails his unknown friend that goes by the fake name Blue frequently and also goes the fake name Jacques. Everything is fine, until Martin sees Simon's email one day in the library. Martin uses the emails as a way to blackmail him. Simon is forced to do everything Martin asks in order to keep his sexual orientation a secret from the outside world. Martin does terrible things to get what he wants which is a chance with Simon's friend Abby. While this is happening Simon becomes closer with Blue and eventually develops a crush on the unknown boy who goes to the same school. Many things happen between Martin and Simon but everything ends when Martin takes things too far. As a result of Martin's extreme act, he is forced to come out to everyone. Simon becomes even closer with Blue and things escalate to them knowing each other's identity. Blue and Simon end up dating in real life and everything ends happily despite the many issues Simon had to face with coming out and Martin.

I read this book because I had heard good things about the movie Love, Simon and wanted to read the book it was based off of. "Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" was an amazing book. I loved the LGBT+ representation. Simon's feelings were very real and relatable. I finished the book in a day because I enjoyed it that much. I would definitely recommend to anyone and I would definitely classify it as one of the top three books I have read this year.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: The Long Cosmos

The Long Cosmos
Author: 
Pratchett, Terry
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

By the time I reached the end of the Long Earth series, I had a revelation. With the bounding conditions of the universe being that there are multiple worlds accessible via stepping and that no iron can pass between worlds, the ideas to explore these multiple worlds are almost endless. My revelation was that this series would have been better as an anthology of short stories from a collection of authors, instead of a handful of semi-disjointed novels that didn’t ever quite know what they were doing. The story never shined through, instead of feeling like a distracted three-year-old who wants to explore the potential of other worlds.

While I felt the series was starting to succeed in telling coherent and solid plots, this book removed that forward progress. When nearly one-third of the first part of the book seems to be comprised entirely of summary and recaps of the last four books, you know there’s not a lot of original ideas present in this one. And while minor tangents like the Johnny Shakespeare side-plot were amusing, they were loosely connected to the main plot at best. Even this main plot didn’t feel like it had enough time spent on it, as the main character of Joshua Valienté seemed to spend most of his time distracted on other worlds with unique trees instead of exploring the Long Cosmos that this book was supposed to be describing.

Even though this book was released after Terry Pratchett's death, it was clear he still had some of his influence on the plot and characters. Unfortunately, as was the case in the other books of the series, his contributions seemed to be fairly obvious, as they were the ones that didn’t quite fit in with everything else and just managed to be silly in an otherwise scientific exploration of new worlds.

The final book in a series that should have been an anthology, I give The Long Cosmos 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Al Capone Shines My Shoes

Al Capone Shines My Shoes
Author: 
Choldenko, Gennifer
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Al Capone Shines My Shoes is an incredible story, that follows up the Newbery Honor novel Al Capone Does My Shirts. In this book, Moose Flanagan's autistic sister is headed to a boarding for special needs students, due to one of the most notorious inmates in Alcatraz. Al Capone is more involved in this story
than the first and writes Moose a letter asking a favor. Choldenko does a great job of mixing real life criminals and fictional characters to make an amazing narrative to read. I enjoyed how this book was very surprising and stood out from the first book in the series. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a mysterious and exciting story to read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Miles

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