All Book Reviews by Genre: Realistic

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Albertalli, Becky
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.
Zebra Forest
Gewirtz, Adina Rishe
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

The book Zebra Forest, by Adrina Gewirtz, tells a story of four lives that are held captive by their father and... the book is essentially just that. The plot is incredibly dull and basic, the characters have no real life to them, the book just seems ramble on and on, and here, everything that can be wrong with a book is present. The title doesn't even have any real importance in the book! I get how maybe a few people might like this book, but from a writing perspective, this book lacks in everything. The book tries so hard to address a somewhat difficult-to-cover topic but forgets that it's meant for older audiences and fails at both. Overall, I would only recommend this book only to the most desperate of readers, or a younger kid.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Awards:
Nothing But Trouble
Davies, Jacqueline
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In the small town of Odawahaka, nothing ever happens. Maggie, however, likes to make things happen. Read along as Maggie, and town newcomer, Lena, make mischief all over town. A great book for girls who like cleverness and determination.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Ms. Bixby's Last Day
Anderson, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ms. Bixby is a special teacher. She makes a difference in the lives of her students including Topher, Steve, and Brand. As each boy narrates the story, we realize what she means to each of them and we understand the lengths they go to to tell her this.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Wish Girl
Loftin, Nikki
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Peter Stone needs a reason to live. Annie Blythe doesn't want to die.
When Peter's parents find the notes he hid, they move the family to Texas Hill County. But he still can't escape their swelling noise... until he sneaks off and discovers a seemingly magic valley, bursting with simply beautiful wildlife and nature. He meets the mysterious girl, Annie. She's a budding artist with terminal cancer, and in less than tow weeks, she's undergoing an extremely dangerous treatment to stop it before it spreads. Her eccentric and dreamy 'live-art' creates a haven for both of them, an escape from chaotic lives.
This book was pretty good, because I felt like the style of writing was meant for a slightly younger audience, which is interesting, because the topics it handled were mature and tough. -Jordan, Grade 8

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
The Serpent King
Zentner, Jeff
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.
Genres:
Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
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.
Genres:
Where the Watermelons Grow
Baldwin, Cindy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Rules for reading:

1) Never ever buy a book. The library has thousands for free.
2) Never ever write in a book, especially if you followed rule 1.
3. Never let more than 5 days pass without reading more of your current book.
Stories don't feel slow if you read them quickly.

Where the Watermelons Grow broke all my rules.

When it finally arrived in the mail, I was very very tempted to devour it all in one night. However, it only took a few pages for me to see that this book needed to be a whole different experience. Like Della, my mama suffers from mental illness. I was 20 instead of 12 when my mama's meds suddenly and tremendously stopped working, and I felt just like Della-- wondering why daddy couldn't take care of it, thinking that I was old enough now that I could fix it if I worked hard enough, and wondering in what ways I had caused or contributed to breaking my mother.

So many times I had to put Watermelons down for a few days (even weeks) to just soak up all my thoughts about a certain chapter or section. It also gave the story more weight to kind of experience it in real time instead of having everything resolve by the end of my week.

One passage that struck me the most was where Della's congregation notices Mama isn't at church and are asking Daddy if he needs any help, but he just sheepishly thanks them for their generosity and assures them everything is fine while Della's mind replays all the things that were not fine about Mama that week and she can't believe Daddy thinks it's fine. I've lived that scene so many times about my mama, and in my adult life when so much is not going great. It's not that help isnt necessary, but more that you dont even know what kind of help to ask for, or if it even exists.

Through it all, Della learns that she has many other women in her life to help mother her when Mama isn't at her best. I know my mom kind of resented my sister and I having additional role models because she didn't want to be replaced, but I don't know how we would have gotten by without having such a community of women willing to take loose chicks under their wing from time to time.

One last thing, I'm a little jealous that Della made peace with her situation at 12. It's a long road, and maybe I haven't mastered it yet either, but it would have been good to have this kind of assurance at 12. ;)

Reviewer's Name: Natalie M.
Genres:
Fish in a Tree
Hunt, Lynda Mullaly
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book "Fish in a Tree" is about a girl named Ally Nickerson who has dyslexia and faces the struggles of not being able to read and everyday struggles any student can relate to. Ally experiences the school hardships of being alone, bullying, and not wanting to work. Despite these struggles she manages to get through the year while succeeding with her new friends. Throughout the story Ally learns valuable traits that the reader can relate to and apply to their own life. The novel "Fish in a Tree" not only inspires the reader, but teaches that things do get better. I personally liked the book because it was inspiring and had a great plot.

I picked this book for multiple reasons and was not at all disappointed. My first reason for picking the book was because it is a new battle book. My second reason for picking "Fish in a Tree" was the fact the reviews states fans of R.J. Palacio's "Wonder" would enjoy it and "Wonder" is one of my favorite books. I enjoyed the amazing character development the most. I actually enjoyed enjoyed all parts of "Fish in a Tree" and can honestly can not find a part I did not enjoy. This book did surprise me. I expected it to end in a sad, depressing way but it was in fact the exact opposite. I related the most to the main character Ally and her friends Keisha and Albert. This is by far one of the best books I have read this year. I would 100% recommend reading "Fish in a Tree".

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Genres:
Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book Wonder fallows different perspectives of a boy named auggie and his family and friends. Auggie is a little boy with a deformed face. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes the switching of one prespective to the next. Anyone who wants to read this book is welcome to it can be read by 8-18 year olds or just anyone who wants to read it. The author did a really good job of tying all the perspectives together and make them not confusing. It was definitely one of my favorite books.

Reviewer's Name: Ashlyn H.
Genres:
Book Review: Illegal
Colfer, Eoin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ebo’s brother Kwame is missing. But Ebo knows where he’s gone: to find their sister. Life in Libya is hard, so Ebo and Kwame’s sister, Hannah, left and promised to send back money once she was installed in Europe with a new job and more money. But since she left, Ebo and Kwame have heard nothing from her. So when Ebo wakes up one morning and Kwame is gone, Ebo knows he must go after him. What follows is the harrowing, heartbreaking story of Ebo’s journey through dangerous cities, deserts, and the ocean.

Wow. Look, I cry a lot, and am no stranger to crying whilst reading. But this book made me sob. Like, uncontrollable tears running down my face. The refugee story is often a sad and intense one, and Ebo’s is certainly no exception. And then, when you think about Ebo’s story in the context of it being a real thing happening to real people in this world that we all share, and the US is actively turning away people in similar if not the same situation, well, its depressing. But importantly so. One must also consider the fact that thousands of children, thousands of people are dying, and no one seems to care. It’s a deeply sad book that will cause lots of introspection, but for me, that’s a good thing. This is an issue that needs more attention.

The stunning artwork added to the impact. Seeing Ebo’s expressions - the heartbreak, loss, and hope playing out across his face – made what was already an intense, powerful story all the more affecting. I loved pretty much everything about this book, and I hope you take the time to read it. 5 stars.

Thanks to Baker & Taylor, Netgalley and Sourcebooks for the free paper and electronic advance copies, which I received in exchange for an honest review. Illegal is available now – put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
The Rejected Writers' Book Club
Kelman, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you need a laugh-out-loud book with plenty of zany characters and a main character who happens to be a librarian, PICK UP THIS BOOK NOW!!! These are a wacky group of writers, and you will just have a good time following their adventures. Be sure to read the next two books in the series - "Rejected Writers Take the Stage", and "The Rejected Writers Christmas Wedding."

Reviewer's Name: Krista M.
The Science of Breakable Things
Keller, Tae
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I loved this book and its amazing way of taking a classic plot like a dead mother and transforming it into a mother than only seems dead, but is actually sick with depression. The main character, Natalie, misses how her mom used to act and be around her. When her teacher Mr. Neely requires a science project for school and suggests a egg drop, she enters the competition determined to win the cash prize. Natalie thinks she can use the money to take her mom and herself to see a rare blue orchid her mom used to study when she still worked. With the help of her best friend and a new acquaintance, will her hopes to have her mom back to normal splat right in front of her? I recommend this book for an easy, but inspiring read about friendship, family, and keeping hope alive.

Reviewer's Name: Cook, Anna
Genres:
After Iris
Farrant, Natasha
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is great! I loved how it captured a big-family dynamic, and how it completely dived into the mind of Bluebell, the twin of Iris, now dead. Bluebell struggles with her twin's death, the negligent behavior of her mourning parents, and the varying personalities of her eccentric remaining siblings. Her elder sister, Flora, is subject to outbursts, passionate rants, and dying her dreadlocks pink. Blue's younger siblings, Twig and Jasmine (yes, I'm aware they have stupid names) are temperamental and adorably obsessed with anything cute and fluffy. When Blue's parents hire a stay-in babysitter, Zoran, to tend to the kids full-time when the parents are away, Blue realizes that she doesn't have to live in the shadow Iris left behind when she died. She realizes she is her own person, outside of her deceased twin.

I LOVED this book! It's about a large family coping with loss, and a former twin coming to terms with her sister's premature death.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
George
Gino, Alex
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Since it was so short, it was a really quick read, but by no means an easy one. I loved it because it was so eye opening, real, and heart breaking. I hated it for the same reasons. It was incredible! The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because it ended too quickly. "George" is about a 4th grader who knows she's a girl born into a boy's body. As she struggles to keep this concealed from her peers, she debates if she even should keep the truth a secret. I don't want to spoil it too much, but she receives support from some peers, and uncertainty and... almost disappointment?... from others. Please read it, it's amazing! I loved it so much.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was given me to as a present and I truly had no intention of ever reading it, but when I did, I was insanely shocked at how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn't read a book like it before and I really enjoyed the drama that was in the story. I knew the plot was going to be interesting but I was really worried about how they would make a plot that didn't seem to shocking for a kid's book. The bullying part was done really well and I believe that instead of telling kids not to be mean, this book should be included in anti-bullying campaigns instead. This book can actually show children, especially younger ones, the effects that bullying anyone will have on the person. I really enjoyed the switching point of view from Auggie and Via because it was super interesting to see how Via reacted to everything about her brother as well, and the problems she had because of who her brother was. Since I had planned on regifting this book, I'm super glad I read it and while it may not be in my top ten favorites of all time, it does have a special place in my heart now.

Reviewer's Name: Brenna C.
Genres:
The Tuscan Child
Bowen, Rhys
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Loved this dual-timeline novel. Both stories were strong enough that they could have stood on their own, but together they were wonderful. The descriptions of a small town in Tuscany were so vivid that I felt like I was there, and the food in particular made me hungry! I've only ever read the Royal Spyness mysteries by Rhys Bowen, but they are among my favorite lighthearted mystery series. Now, I'm definitely going to have to pick up In Farleigh Field and her other mysteries!!!

Reviewer's Name: Krista M.
The Art of Inheriting Secrets
O'Neal, Barbara
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

My favorite so far of Barbara O'Neal's books, and my favorite of the year! This book was just beautiful in every way and just what I needed. Beautiful setting, family secrets, descriptions of food that made my mouth water, and one of the most beautiful love stories I've read in a long time. I honestly felt sad when this book ended. I will be recommending it to anyone looking for a mystery, a Gothic novel, a healing story, a foodie book, or a gorgeous love story. Just wonderful.

Reviewer's Name: Krista M.
The Honest Truth
Giemeinhart, Dan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Overall a really amazing book about a boy with cancer who decides to climb up a mountain despite his decreasing health. Though he faces many challenges on his journey but his dog, Beau, helps him through it with unconditional love and support. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, never wanting to set it down. This book could be a challenging read for some, as you switch around perspectives multiple times, along with some particularly advanced work usage.

Reviewer's Name: Francesca J
Sisters
Teigemeier, Raina
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This graphic novel is about a girl named Raina who couldn't wait to be a big sister but once Amara is born she realizes that sisterhood isn't the sunshine-rainbow-cakewalk she thought it would be. This book explores the big sister little sister relationship like no other book has done before. Family love, life lessons, and learning what it truly is to be sisters. Amazing #1 New York Times bestselling, Eisner Award-winning book that's definitely worth taking the time to read.

Reviewer's Name: Francesca J

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