All Book Reviews

Mortal Engines
Reeve, Philip
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In yet another case of watching a movie first before reading the books, I
finally got around to reading Mortal Engines after absolutely loving the 2018
movie. While I understand middle-grade or Young Adult readers are the
intended audiences, it left me wanting in its presentation. Sure, most of the
elements that made it into the film were there (with some less-than-necessary
parts being cut from the screenplay for obvious reasons), but the way it was
written felt a bit too flowery for my tastes. In fact, the engineer in me
would have loved a lot more world-building than I got in this short volume.

I did still appreciate the post-apocalyptic steampunk world of Mortal
Engines—if for no other reason than its ridiculous premise. The idea that
whole cities would transform into moving monstrosities that devour lesser
towns in a “predator and prey” relationship is such an intriguing notion
that I had to give it a chance. Even if I don’t expect there to be movies
to finish out the adaptation of the quartet of books, I can definitely look
forward to exploring the rest of this series to have my world-building needs
satiated in the next volume.

While the young protagonists were flat and singularly minded, some of the
adults had enough meat on them to make their actions reasonable and
realistic. Sure, there are always going to be clichés in stories meant for
younger audiences. However, I don’t usually tolerate character-based
clichés as much as I do plot-based ones. And while the writing certainly had
a creative bent to its vocabulary, it became tiresome having to sit through
it for a whole book. Purple prose is good in short bursts, but too much of a
good thing can ruin the immersion of the reader.

A fantastic idea with semi-flat characters and far too flowery language, I
give Mortal Engines 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Alvin Journeyman
Card, Orson Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

With this fourth book in the Alvin Maker series, I’m starting to see why a
lot of writers like to stick to trilogies. If anything, I think most readers
can probably skip this volume and move on to the next one because there
wasn’t anything too new or interesting that happened in it. If anything, it
was a re-hash of events in the previous book with a few new characters added
to it. I will concede that Alvin Journeyman did finally develop a fitting
antagonist for Alvin. Still, so few pages were dedicated to this sub-plot
that I’m wondering if it should have just been pulled out and made into its
own novella that would span the gap between book three and book five.

Once again, the strength of the series as a whole carries through here, and
some loose character arcs are tied up before moving on to more important
things. However, spending the majority of the book hashing over what astute
readers (or even readers who were moderately paying attention in the last few
books) already knew as truth just to confirm to the rest of the characters
around Alvin that he wasn’t lying seemed like a waste of words.

If anything, using the delay in Alvin’s journey to develop Calvin’s
“making” abilities did provide a bit of contrast between the two and will
likely pay off when the forces of good and evil clash in future volumes. I
still appreciate the way Orson Scott Card integrates actual history with a
fantasy explanation, though. Despite the missed step here, I’ll continue
with the series to see how it resolves. At the very least, volumes like this
show me why it’s not as notable as the Ender Saga, which was a solid four
book set (that’s really just three books with the third split into two
parts).

A weak link in the Alvin Maker series, I give Alvin Journeyman 3.0 stars out
of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
Book Review: War Girls
Onyebuchi, Tochi
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Onyii and Ify live as sisters in an all-girls refugee/war camp on the edge of the Redlands, an area riddled with radiation from a long-ago nuclear disaster. Nigeria, their home, is in the midst of a civil war. Children are conscripted as soldiers and pilots for mechanized warrior robots. Onyii and Ify are separated, and as truths are revealed to each of them, they must decide where, and with whom, their loyalties lie all while trying not to die a terrible death in a bloody civil war.

Going into this, I knew nothing about the Nigeria - Biafran civil war of the 1960s, which is at the heart of this novel. Personally, I enjoy learning about parts of history that I know nothing about (I typically don’t gravitate to one of the 1,983,784,767 WWII novels, for example), and I really enjoyed the unique setting. The book is set in the future, and the futuristic elements really added a lot to the plot and were well employed by the author. Onyii, for example, is an Augment, meaning that she’s a little bit of a bionic woman. While I didn’t really relate to the main characters, I did really like them. They didn’t always make the best decisions, but their decisions made sense to their characters and their respective arcs. They were easy to root for. Really, my only complaint was that it felt overlong, and I skimmed through some of the battle scenes, but that’s more a matter of personal preference.

TLDR: Looking for something to read after Children of Blood and Bone? You’ve found your next great Nigerian inspired read! (And, honestly, if you haven’t read Children of Blood and Bone but it’s on your TBR, I’d suggest replacing it with War Girls, which is a much more original, engaging book). For readers who like apocalyptic novels and futuristic sci-fi battles. 4 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley and Razorbill for the eARC which I received in exchange for an honest review. War Girls will be available for purchase on 15 October, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
I'm Trying to Love Math
Barton, Bethany
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Using abundant humor, Bethany Barton makes this book about math interesting to all. Her facts and explanations show how math is used in our everyday lives and why it’s important. Math is used all around the world and even in space. We used math when we bake cookies, make music, and explore. It’s part of many of the patterns we see in nature. Since math is part of so many of the things you already love, you may just already love math.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Mysterious Experiments
Claybourne, Anna
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

There’s nothing magical about these experiments – just everyday science. Experiment with raisins, sugar cubes, eggs, and more. You can just use simple materials that you already have around the house to test things out and learn something too.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Book Review: Nowhere Boy
Marsh, Katherine
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fantastic! Ahmed is a 14 year old Syrian refugee that has been orphaned and left with no money and no place to go. He ends up in Brussels and hides in the wine cellar of a house. Max, whose family lives in the house, discovers him and they strike up a friendship. What follows is a story of loyalty, determination, and desperation. The ending almost made me cry. The book brings up questions about whether or not countries should accept refugees and how to determine who is good and who is a terrorist. I definitely recommend it to everyone, as the plight of middle eastern refugees should be known to all.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
Rethinking Positive Thinking
Oettingen, Gabriele
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In her book, Ms Oettingen teaches readers how to use the science of positive thinking to their advantage. After years of research, she has found that mere "positive thought" does not produce optimal results for people's lives. Instead, a specifically targeted approach to positive thought and positive action is best. This is what she teaches readers. I would recommend this book to people seeking to improve their lives through targeted approaches of thought and action. Readers 16 and up are appropriate.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca D
Ten Women who changed Science and the World
Whitlock, Catherine Evans, Rhodri
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In her book, "10 Women Who Changed Science and the World", Catherine Whitlock authors the biography of ten women who were deeply influential in science. For each woman, she writes a biography of their life and what significant contribution they made to their field. This book is well-written and informative, and neither too long nor too short for each woman's biography. I would recommend this book for readers of ages 13 and up. This book should interest those interested in women's contributions to science.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca D
Shark
MacQuitty, Miranda
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In her book about sharks, Ms Macquitty teachers readers all about the fascinating salt-water creatures. The book is well done for young ages, with plenty of interesting facts. There are also many pictures to illustrate her points. Well researched and informative, this book is sure to engage young readers.
I would recommend this book to any young readers from 5 through Elementary school. Any children fascinated with sharks and wishing to learn more will be pleased by this read.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca D
Ask A Science Teacher
Scheckel, Larry
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In his book "Ask a Science Teacher", Larry Scheckel lists 250 science questions and answers them all in detail for readers. Each series of questions is divided under sections. For example, there is a section about Sound and Music and a section about Chemistry. He spans a broad range of scientific topics, from biology in the question "How many cells are in the body?" to history of science in question "Did Issac Newton develop calculus?" Mr. Scheckel answers the questions thoroughly with interesting detail. He engages readers. I would recommend this book to anyone with science interests and questions. This book is appropriate for ages high school and up.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca D
The Tapping Solution
Ortner, Jessica
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In her book “The Tapping Solution For Weight Loss and Body Confidence”, Jessica Ortner guides readers through a step-by-step process for not only losing weight but also for increasing self-compassion and thus increasing self-confidence and self-esteem. Tapping, also known as EFT (emotional freedom technique), is a method of lowering cortisol levels in the body. By tapping on specific meridian acupressure points on the face, neck, and underarms while describing the issue or stressor, it has been scientifically proven that the brain re-wires and cortisol reduces. In her book, Ms Ortner not only teaches readers how to tap in order to aid weight loss, since low cortisol levels have been linked with greater weight-loss success. She also helps readers to learn how to be more self-compassionate in their weight-loss journey, thus decreasing stress and increasing self-confidence.
I enjoyed this book for its positive message to women to be confident in who they are at this and every moment of life, even within the challenges we face. I would recommend this book to readers from ages 16 and up, especially young women or women looking to increase their self-compassion.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca D
Pride
Zoboi, Ibi Aanu
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A modern take on Jane Austen's "Pride and Predjudice", "Pride" focuses on Brooklyn proud Zuri who writes poetry and hates seeing her neighborhood change. Zuri deals with the introduction of a rich new family to her block and the subsequent gentrification of her neighborhood. With themes of romance, reluctance, and pessimism, "Pride" makes for an interesting exploration of modern romance. Along with that, there is an interesting insight on the idea of what a neighborhood is: people you know, places where you know what to expect, and the true feeling of home. "Pride" is a great read for those who want a romance but also relate to the struggles of high school and family as a teenager.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K
Mirage
Daud, Somaiya
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Mirage", an immersive and captivating book, tells the story of a girl stolen from her home to become identical stand-in for an intergalactic princess with a target on her back. The main character Amani is a simple and traditional girl who is kidnapped and tortured for the soul fact that she looks exactly like the hated princess of the galaxy. An incredibly intriguing story about self, love, and revolution, "Mirage" captures the conflict of learning to love someone you shouldn't and coming to love the person who enslaved you. "Mirage" incorporates South-East Asian culture along with subtly hinting at the tensions between Europeans and South-East Asians. A beautiful book, "Mirage" is certainly a great read if you want a beautiful and empowering story.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K
The Storm
Bergin, Virginia
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Sequel to "H2O", "The Storm" continues the story of a newly distopian Earth where the rain kills. This book focuses on the bonds of family in crisis, or lack thereof, and the pursuit of survival. Like "H2O" I would call "The Storm" a dystopian thriller with a hint of romance. Not only are all the characters in peril, but they are on their own without any governmental aid.

Truly a fascinating story that will make you uneasy around water.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K
Nowhere But Here
McGarry, Katie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Seventeen year old Emily lives a life full of curiosity. Curiosity of her biological father and his whereabouts. Curiosity of her father's motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror. Her curiosity overcomes her and she agrees to an extended summer vacation to visit her father and her relatives she has never met before. While with her father she becomes intrigued with her fathers motorcycle club, and the young and gorgeous boy OZ whose apart of it. They lead a forbidden romance filled with adventure and love, but when a rival club comes to town will it destroy their future plans, or is their love strong enough to overcome challenges? I adored this book, its twist and turns kept me glued to the page and urged me to read the sequels. The danger mixed with the romance was a brilliant way to keep readers interested.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Madison S
Everblaze
Messenger, Shannon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The third book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, Everblaze, is awesome! This is one of my favorite books in the series, with all the action.
If you like Fitzphie, this will be one of your favorite books too! Through this book, we have to make BIG decisions, escape danger, help the city, and have tons of action packed moments! No inappropriate language or content.

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey S
Exile
Messenger, Shannon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The second book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, Exile, is hands down AMAZING! This is probably my favorite book in the series, starring my top 2 favorite characters, Sophie and Keefe. Even if you don't like Team Foster-Keefe, this book is still awesome! We get to see new places, take a look into the past, find new creatures, discover new abilities, and have lots of action and humor! No inappropriate language or content.

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey S
Keeper of the Lost Cities
Messenger, Shannon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Starting off another series by Shannon Messenger called Keeper of the Lost Cities, the first book, Keeper of the Lost Cities, was amazing! It is adventurous, cliff-hanging, action-packed, and great for ages 8-teens! While reading this book, I can guarantee you will meet some of your favorite, funny, awesome fictional characters! This book series has a VERY good chance of becoming your favorite. No inappropriate content or language.

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey S
Awards:
Flashback
Messenger, Shannon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Reading through the 7th book of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series was amazing!!! The Mysterious Miss F and her friends are on another adventure! While going through this adventure, we meet new characters, face dangers, train, and fight! This book is super exciting and if you have read any of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, you won't want to miss reading this book! Also, no inappropriate content or language!

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey S
Genres:
Halfway Perfect
Cross, Julie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A novel about a romance between a photographer and a model takes an interesting and intriguing take on unique love stories. Eve is a photographer with a troubled past, when she meets the gorgeous up and coming model Alex a romance blossoms. With both of their careers on the line, and Eve’s past catching up to her will their love survive to modeling industry? This novel was nothing like other romance novels and kept me wondering what was going to happen with every page turn. I especially loved the change in cliche where instead of the girl being the model, the man was the model.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Madison S

Pages