All Book Reviews

The Wishing Spell
Colfer, Chris
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Twins, Alex and Connor Bailey, are two average middle school kids.
Alex is a bookworm and is very lonely, while Connor is the class clown and
has a lot of friends. Their dad died a year before, and their mother is still
struggling to pay off bills. Both of the twins have grown up loving all the
classic fairy tales. On their twelfth birthday, their grandmother comes into
town to celebrate with them. Alex and Conner are given the old family
storybook, filled with all those classic stories they grew up with. Late that
night, while Alex is reading, the storybook begins to glow and hum. Alex is
shocked, and throughout the week, she realizes its a portal to the land of
stories, where fairytales come to life. I chose to read this book because I
was told it was about a spin on classic tales. I think that people that like
the show once upon a time would like this. I love how Chris Colfer made a
connection and a community of the stories like Cinderella, Thumbelina,
Sleeping Beauty, and much more. The only part I don't like is that there is
sometimes profanity and foul language. Otherwise, this is an AMAZING book and
I highly recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Abby P.
Awards:
Genres:
There's Someone Inside Your House
Perkins, Stephanie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

It's been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she's still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii. Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer. Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets.

"There's Someone Inside Your House" is a compelling book that at times feels impossible to put down. Stephanie Perkins excels at writing fast reads and this book is no exception. Being my first time reading one of her books I have to say that I wasn't disappointed, but I also wasn't won over. If your looking for a complex horror novel, this is not the book for you. It's murder plot is very straightforward and its essentially about a serial killer terrorizing a town. The beginning of the book was my favorite part, the murders were slow and calculated, each one more interesting then the last and the characters were brand new so I was still suspicious about all of them. Not knowing who I could trust made the beginning my favorite part, but once the killer is revealed and the action starts to speed up my interest began to decrease. My main problems with the book was the serial killer's baffling motivation and lackluster reveal. I also thought Makani's mysterious past was brought up way too much to be believable. In almost every chapter she worries "do they know about my past?" "could he have found out what I've done?" and when it actually is revealed what she did, her constant worry seems all the more unrealistic. I wished her two friends would have been more developed, especially Darby. I felt like they were both pushed to the background to make way for Ollie's development. That being said I did enjoy Alex, Darby's, Makani's interaction/friendship. And I think Makani makes an interesting protagonist. Her mysterious past adds intrigue and any references to her childhood in Hawaii feel genuine and well-researched. Ollie is also unique and likeable. All in all it was different sort of book for me, I doubt hardcore mystery or horror fans would enjoy it, but if your looking for a simple YA slasher then I think you would enjoy this.

Reviewer's Name: Zion
Floors
Carman, Patrick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Leo lives in a hotel. The hotel consists of many rooms and some of them are crazy. Thee owner of the library is inside one of the rooms and has the keys to the room that Leo needs to open to save the hotel from closing. He and his friend Remi go around the whole hotel to find the room. Join Leo and Remi with their awesome adventure to find the keys that will help the hotel form closing down.

Reviewer's Name: Harshith J.
Tangerine
Bloor, Edward
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Tangerine is about Paul who moved to an affluent neighborhood in Lake Winsor Downs, Florida, and went to a lower income school in the next district over. His brother Erick is a good football player, and gets all his parents attention. His dad has the Erick Fisher Football Dream. Paul is into soccer, and his parents don't take his soccer dreams seriously. Paul, and his soccer friends at his new school get into some trouble. I liked that many kids can relate to the book. But I didn't like how most of the content felt like filler content, and it just kind of felt like a diary.

Reviewer's Name: Ryan
Genres:
Carrie
King, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have telekinesis powers? Well ''Carrie'' by Stephen King is for you. ''Carrie'' follows the life of teenager Carrie White at her home and school. With the bullying at school and her fanatically pious mother, strange occurrences start happening around Carrie. She begins to suspect that she has supernatural powers. Invited to the prom by the empathetic Tommy Ross, Carrie tries to let her guard down, but things eventually take a dark and violent turn.

I chose to read ''Carrie'' because it is well planned and full of thoughtful writing and wit. It also shows the life of a un-respected teen in high school. I enjoyed the fact that ''Carrie'' used ''news reports'' shown earlier to the reader to for-shadow to what might happen later. ''Carrie'' was also written to take place in 1979. I also enjoyed how after the climax, the author provided how the town recovered from her wreckage. One point of the book that I felt was unnecessary was how the antagonist, Chris Hargensen planned revenge on Carrie. If you enjoy horror films or books, read or watch ''Carrie'' today!

Reviewer's Name: Marley T.
Genres:
The Baby Owner's Manual
Borgenicht, Louis and Joe
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

You might be shocked to learn that some men do read the instructions. There have been numerous products that I have purchased over the years which necessitated a read-through of the instructions provided. Usually, these were items of extreme complexity or of thorough interest to me to require fully understanding the items before beginning to use them. The Baby Owner’s Manual might seem like a humorous fusion of a parenting book with a repair manual for a vehicle, but somehow the fusion of these two works better than I would have ever expected.

Published by Quirk Books (who have created other genius mash-ups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Shakespeare’s Star Wars ), The Baby Owner’s Manual takes the complicated and frightening task of keeping a newborn alive and presents the necessary information in a format that any guy can understand. In fact, aside from a few choice substitutions that make a baby seem more like a car than a human, I’d probably keep this book as a useful reference any time something I don’t know how to handle comes up. This will likely be often considering my first child is due near the end of the year.

The only qualm I might have with this book is that some studies have come out since 2003 that have changed a few suggestions the book gives these new parents. Of course, any well-prepared parents will probably be able to pick these inconsistencies out and follow the more current recommendations. In the
end, though, the direct and straightforward method this book uses to convey its information makes it far more useful than just as a gag gift (I’m looking at you, How to Traumatize Your Children).

An instruction manual every man should read, I give The Baby Owner’s Manual 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back
Doescher, Ian
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I said it for my review of Shakespeare’s Star Wars , and I’ll say it again: this combination of old verbiage and meter with popular science fiction is a match made in heaven. The follow-up to the first part of the original trilogy, Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back continues to be an amusing exercise that anyone who loves Shakespeare and/or Star Wars will enjoy. Some consider Empire to be the best part of the original trilogy, and its adherence to the plot won’t disappoint. Additionally, the audiobook version continues to use music, sound effects, and voice acting to recreate an experience as close to the source material as possible.

While the audiobook did provide a robust experience of the text (especially the voice actors who recreated Han Solo and C-3PO’s speech patterns), the author’s explanation at the end made me realize there were some aspects that weren’t quite as clear as they would have been if I had just read the book normally. For instance, Yoda’s typically backward speech wasn’t as backward as I would have thought—mostly because the Shakespearean cadence sounds a little backward. Instead, Yoda spoke in haiku, which I’m sure would have been more evident if I was reading the words on the page.

As I mentioned above, Empire is the favorite of many Star Wars fans. However, I’m one of the rare few (like the author) who find Return of the Jedi to be their favorite of these first three films. Consequently, since this book held close to the original plot, it seemed to sag a little between the opening act on Hoth and the third act in Cloud City. At least the added soliloquies from ancillary characters like the AT-AT walkers, random Stormtroopers, and the dangerous creatures of the universe added in some humorous elements to the narrative that weren’t strictly canon.

A fantastic audiobook that still might require a read-through, I give Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Desert Spear
Brett, Peter
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The second book in the Demon Cycle series, The Desert Spear practically proves my point that its predecessor, The Warded Man , started in the wrong place. In fact, if there weren’t an awesome battle sequence at the end of The Warded Man, I’d suggest just skipping to The Desert Spear since all the key moments from the first book were referenced in this sequel. That being said, this book has some of its own issues, some of which are gripes I continue to have about this series—which makes me think this is just the way these books are going to be.

Before I get too far down the criticism hole, I do want to say that I truly enjoy the magic system in these books. The Desert Spear doesn’t necessarily do anything new with it, but there’s at least a little more world building that happens in terms of the demons that I would have liked to see integrated more fully into the story. I like the idea of wards essentially being “computer programs” in a fantasy space, which is probably why I’ll continue to read this series. I’ll also say that the depth of the cultures presented in this book are top-notch and the action is expertly-described.

All this being said, there’s a lot of fluff in this book. The entire first third was practically a prologue to the meeting of the “desert” forces and the “forest” people, most of which could have easily been condensed. Even what I thought was a side story seemed to be only added as a way to integrate a short piece of essential plot near the end of the book. Despite being wordy, these moments were slightly necessary. Additionally, the “modern” sensibilities of Leesha are admirable for a woman in a fantasy setting but most of the time just pulled me out of the story because they didn’t necessarily match the timeframe where it was set.

A book that continues with great world building but in far too many words, I give The Desert Spear 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
 Running for My Life
Lomong, Lopez
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Lopez Lomong is a phenomenal runner. When he runs, he feels as though he is free and it is the one thing that gives him immense amounts of joy. However, Lopez didn't always start out in the spotlight. In fact, his story begins in a South Sudanese war camp. "Running For My Life" is the incredible story of one boys journey from awful refugee camps to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This nonfiction story is told through Lopez himself making it a thrilling autobiography. I personally love this book because my brother was an Eritrean refugee and when he came to America, he got a scholarship for running. I don't know what it is about that particular sport, but it definitely changes lives as shown through Lomong's book. Even if you are not a fan or sports or running, "Running For My Life" teaches valuable lessons and helps us to empathize with others. It shows that love can be found everywhere in the world. Trust me when I say that you will not be bored with this book. Lopez constantly has a good attitude in life even if his best meal of the week is eating out of a trash heap (which actually happens in his refugee camp). Lopez goes with his friends to watch the Olympics on T.V at a rich man's house back in South Sudan. He sees a man holding the flag of America, tears streaming down his happy face. From that moment, Lopez decides that he wants to be that man. He wants to win an Olympic race and make his country proud. I mean he already has the running skills considering that the boys in the refugee camp have to run 18 miles in order to go play soccer!
Lopez has a spiritual journey throughout his life and his faith never wavers. Three older boys helped Lopez escape a war camp when he was six. When they got to safety, the boys disappeared. Lopez is convinced that the boys who helped him were angels. This story like no other will move you and inspire you to follow your dreams. Lomong proves that no matter who you are or where your from, you can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.

Reviewer's Name: Megan T.
Where the Red Fern Grows
Rawls, Wilson
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A boy named Billy lives in the foothills of the Ozarks in southern Missouri. He gets dog fever when he is ten. He begs his parents for a pair of hunting dogs. This goes on for about six months. Then his parents give him three steel traps. This entertains him for a while but then his hunger for dogs is stronger than ever. He works his tail off saving money to buy dogs himself. Let Billy take on a wild adventure of coons, dogs, and love. I read this book because I loved how close Little Ann, Old Dan, and Billy were. I liked it because it slows down the story and really explains it. If you are going to read this book I would recommend that you have the Internet handy. The talk that they use is slightly difficult to understand, but immerses you into that time period.

Major Themes

Adventure
Love

If you love the outdoors and are a dog person I would recommend this book for you.

Reviewer's Name: James
Awards:
Genres:
If I Fix You
Johnson, Abigail
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Fixing things is Jill Whitaker's favorite hobby. From helping fix cars in her dad's shop to fixing people. When she walks into her house one night she sees her best friend and crush, Sean Addison, close to kissing her mom. The next day her mom leaves with only a sticky note to tell Jill why. Suddenly, the girl who likes to fix things needs fixing herself. When a new mysterious neighbor moves in Jill finds herself growing closer to him, but little does she know he has his own things he needs fixing. Jill learns she can't fix anything or anyone until she fixes herself, which is not an easy task. Along the journey she discovers secrets she has been kept from her whole life, tests her relationships with everyone she loves, and finds out the truth about the night her mom walked out.

Originally, I choose to read this book because it sounded very interesting. While the book starts out extremely slow it finally picks up pace towards the end. However, I enjoy books that constantly keep the reader on the edge of their seats the entire time. "If I Fix You" is a great coming of age story but it is not necessarily the most interesting. Constantly I found myself struggling to pick up the book again after I put it down. While readers who do enjoy a slow paced coming of age novel will absolutely love this book but if your the type of reader who enjoys always being on the edge of your seat this might not be the best book for you.

Reviewer's Name: Lyndsey
Frostblood
Blake, Elly
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ruby is a Fire Blood who is in hiding, her grandmother taught her how to control a small flame but her grandmother died before she could learn more. Ruby's mother is a healer who wants to protect Ruby as much as she can. On her journey she meets a Frost Blood named Arcus who only sees Ruby as a tool for the downfall of the Frost Blood king. Ruby has to make a decision to save herself or stay and love the Icy man she has come to love.

I loved this book I didn't want to put it down, as soon as I read the first page I wanted nothing to do with anything going on in my life but to read this book. When the time came to the climax I was shocked by what had happened. It was an amazing story and originally when I choose this book as a birthday present I didn't think it would be good as it sounded. I would recommend this book to whoever likes Fantasy, Adventure, and Romance.

Reviewer's Name: Rhianna
Where the Red Fern Grows
Rawls, Wilson
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I loved Where The Red Fern Grows. It is a great book and it is a story about a boy and his two dogs. After you read this book, I think you will be reading it again soon after! It just shows that his dogs will do anything for their owner through kindness and loyalty.

Reviewer's Name: Olivia D.
Awards:
Genres:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Lewis, C.S.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When 4 british school children are sent away during World War II to a old professers home the have no idea what adventures are there. The children find a wardrobe in a room of the house and enter it where they find themselves in a magic land called Narnia. This book is full of adventure and is a good read for people of all ages.

Reviewer's Name: Kaci
Soul of the Sword cover
Kagawa, Julie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Soul of the Sword picks up directly at the end of the events of the first book in the series, Shadow of the Fox. If you haven’t read Shadow of the Fox, and you like Japanese mythology, what are you waiting for? Pick it up now! Also, skip this review, because spoilers.

If you liked the first book, you’ll like this one too. I did not remember the first book that well as I read it last summer, but Kagawa writes this in such a way that it’s easy for the reader to jump right back in. Most of our characters (save Tatsumi, because he’s mostly a demon now) get further development, and Yumeko in particular really seems to have grown a lot throughout the course of the book. My favorite character, the ronin Okame, has an exceptionally fun development. The worldbuilding, which was fantastic in the first book, continues to be alluring as Kagawa further fleshes out what was already a well-drawn world. The plot, like the first book, is fast-paced and while this is definitely something of a bridge book, it’s a bridge book that is really fun to read.

Readers of Rick Riordan who are looking for something a little more grown-up, or folks who like their fantasy to be steeped in mythology, you won’t go wrong with this series. I’m excited for the next one to come out. 4 stars – I really liked it!

Thanks to Harlequin Teen & Netgalley for the advance copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Soul of the Sword will be available for purchase on 18 June or you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Be Brave Like Batman!
Hitchcock, Laura
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

There is no need to be afraid of the dark. You have all the tools to be brave like Batman! Just use your gadgets, get help, and use your wits. Don’t let your fear stop you from doing what you need to do. Think like Batman and conquer your fears!

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Gittel's Journey: An Ellis Island Story
Newman, Lesléa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is the story of Gittel. She is supposed to travel with her mother to America. At the last minute, her mother is unable to board the boat because of health concerns and so Gittel must travel alone. Read the story of tis young Jewish girl and her journey to America for a better life. Will she find mama’s cousin when she reaches America? Will her mother be able to join her in the new country? Read this beautifully illustrated picture book to find out. It’s loosely based on stories handed down in the author’s family.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Tinker, Rebecca
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

You may be familiar with the series and game, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, but do you understand who she is? This book will give you the background on her. She is always one step ahead of her pursuers. How did she learn her awesome skills? Read this backstory and figure out how she came to
be this infamous and elusive criminal.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
The Color of Us
Katz, Karen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Karen Katz celebrates diversity in The Colors of Us. Seven-year-old Lena thinks that brown skin is brown skin until she takes a walk with her mother. They admire the different shades of skin on the people they see and compare the colors to foods and other natural things. It’s a colorfully illustrated book that helps kids see that we are all both different and the same.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Peek-a WHO?
Laden, Nina
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This darling rhyming board book allows readers to guess what’s hiding on the next page. Page designs with cut-outs give clues to what might be there. The simple text and colorful pictures help make this a fun book for little ones.

Reviewer's Name: Carol

Pages