Goodreads Choice Award/Nominee

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

Book Review: Bird Box

Bird Box
Author: 
Malerman, Josh
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Imagine, you are a mom who has had to raise her two kids in a world where going outside was a major undertaking. No! This world is not filled with the usual “monstrous suspects” you come to expect in horror novels, vampires, werewolves etc.. this evil is unseen and unknown. It can’t be known, for you see, the moment any person glimpses it, this “evil” drives them to unspeakable violence and shortly after, their own death. The world didn’t used to be like this, it used to be normal but since “the evil” infested our world, things have never been the same. This evil leaves no survivors, and no one can stop it because no one can see it. It simply is unbeatable.

Malorie and her two children live in this world where evil can ravage anyone if you were just to step outside. To protect her and her children she raises them and teaches herself, to live life almost completely blind with a blindfold on most of the time. They do the best they can, holed up in their home trying to survive. One day through their meager means of communication Mallorie hears of this place 20 miles downriver where her and her family might be safe. But only if they can get there. Malorie and her kids, soon after, set out on a harrowing and terrifying journey downriver, all while wearing blindfolds, that will test them in ways they couldn’t have imagine.

Mallerman creates a horrifying and terrifying experience for readers that will leave them continually guessing. The strength of this story is also what makes it the best kind of horror. It’s unknowable and theirs a mystery around every corner. It could be something that could turn out to be a monster or something that could help the hero’s on their journey. The tense and creepy atmosphere Mallerman creates from the character’s surroundings also adds to the overall terrifying and mysterious aura of the story. Add to this that the evil so talked about throughout the book, is never actually revealed. Mallerman does a brilliant job of revealing some things but not everything leaving the readers imagination to make up the rest. And that is the strength of this book really, it turns the readers mind against them. Highly original and so creepy this book is a solid five stars. Pick up this intense terrifying psychological horror story today. And check out the movie coming to Netflix this December. I promise you, you won’t regret it!

Reviewer's Name: 
Tawnie

Book Review: The Long Mars

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

While the previous two entries in this series seemed to be disjointed in their writing styles, The Long Mars seemed to iron out some of these discrepancies . . . finally. In The Long Earth and The Long War , you could almost pinpoint the sections that Terry Pratchett wrote and the sections primarily written by Stephen Baxter. By The Long Mars, there are still a few moments of Terry Pratchett’s goofiness, but they are few and far between. Consequently, the narrative of The Long Mars seemed a lot more consistent than its predecessors.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that The Long Mars is absent of problems. While there was plenty of exploration of these parallel universes, the ones that were deemed necessary enough to describe didn’t add anything to the plot. In fact, I felt like this book could have been much shorter if these thought experiments that explored how parallel universes would function were cut out entirely. If these momentary breaks in the action were tied to critical moments or conflicts, then I could see their necessity. As they are right now, you could remove almost every one of them and still have the same basic story.

The scientist in me did like the broader examination of what to do with multiple universes, like easily visiting Mars. These concepts were touched on in the previous books, but now they felt a lot more fleshed out. Similarly, I felt like the characters were a lot more interesting, especially the dynamic between Sally and her father. Sure, there were probably a few too many plot lines to follow, but at least I cared about the characters now. I’m also not sure if the ending was supposed to mimic its predecessors, as that was one of my frustrations with The Long War: an almost identical ending to The Long Earth.

A significant improvement in the Long Earth series, I give The Long Mars 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

If you are a fan of Harry Potter, you probably always wondered what happened to Harry, Ron and Hermione after they left Hogwarts. This book answers those questions. It is written in play form, so it is a little awkward at first, but once you get into the story, you barely even realize the different style.
It was a great story and made you feel like you were still part of Harry and his friends lives. This is a must read story for any Harry Potter fan.

Reviewer's Name: 
Brenna C.

Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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

Have you ever felt out of place? Felt that you were hiding who you really were, or a big part of you? Incorporated with themes of self acceptance as well as humor, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is for you. This book tells the story of Simon, a junior growing up in a small, conservative town. He is gay, and has not shared it with anyone and is not ready to yet. Keeping up a relationship via email with a boy with the pen name Blue, he accidentally leaves his email logged on in the school they both go to. When a boy named Martin finds this email, he blackmails him. Help Martin win over his crush (one of Simon's closest friends), or get revealed on one of the most personal things a human can have, their identity and sexuality. Keeping up this correspondence with his crush, turning more flirtatious daily, while hiding from a close group of friends, is sure to cause all kinds of trouble.

I love this book, because it is full of heavy topics, along with humor and adorable romance. This is recommended to anyone learning about such controversial themes, and to a lower reading level audience, because it is a very easy read. However, the more mature the better, because many cuss words and descriptions of romance are used in this book along with imagery on underage drinking and more. If you have ever felt like you don't fit the description of the normal human being, check out simon vs the homo sapiens agenda today.

Reviewer's Name: 
Anna C.

Book Review: Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: 
Zappia, Francesca
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Eliza and Her Monsters is a beautifully imaginative piece that focuses around Eliza Mirk and her secret web comic "Monstrous Sea". Eliza is a famous web comic artist but nobody knows that it's her, even her family.
She's a nobody at school until Wallace Warland arrives and they begin their friendship. Everything is fine except Wallace is the biggest fan of "Monstrous Sea" and Eliza continues to hide her true identity. A riveting story for those who love romance, high school angst, and hidden identities.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K.

Book Review: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

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

Becky Albertalli's novel "Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is a wonderful coming of age book that shows the hardships of being different in high school. Simon Spier is your average high school student. He has a close group of friends who he loves, he gets decent grades, loves participating in theater, but he keeps a secret about himself from all of those around him.
"Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is a great story for those who love love, drama, and just being a teenager. Truly a story for the ages.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K.

Book Review: The Serpent King

The Serpent King
Author: 
Zentner, Jeff
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

'The Serpent King' gripped me in its coils and kept me turning its pages late into the night. A triumph of love and dignity," (New York Times Bestselling author, Stephanie Perkins). In the depths of a small Tennessee town, Dill Early struggles with a reputation that isn't even his. With an insane, jailed minister for a father and a brainwashed, beat-down mother, Dill does not expect to escape from the recesses of poverty and shame. "The Serpent King" tracks the senior year of outcasts Dill and his best friends Travis and Lydia. Throughout this exhilarating novel you experience joy, heartbreak, hope, and thankfulness for your own situation.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K.

Book Review: Wonder

Wonder
Author: 
Palacio, R.J.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book "Wonder" is about a boy with face abnormalities named August who goes to public school for the first time as a middle school student. While going to school he makes friends, enemies, and faces hardships most students don't face. The source of his bullying throughout the year is Julian. Auggie deals with Julian and his gang with his own new friends until something unexpected happens.

I picked this book because the description seemed interesting and "Wonder" is a battle book. I enjoyed the deep meaningful lesson that the book teaches. There is actually not a part I did not enjoy. "Wonder" was not at all predictable. I could relate to August because likes Star Wars and I do too. It is one of the best books I have read this year. I highly recommend reading "Wonder" for a heartwarming story with many ups and downs.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

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