Adult Book Reviews

Wrong Place Wrong Time
McAllister, Gillian
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Jen is the forty-something mother of a seventeen year old son, Todd. She and her husband have raised him in a loving, happy home. Only one night, Jen witnesses Todd commit a horrendous crime and he ends up in police custody. When she wakes up the next morning, it isn't the next morning at all. It is yesterday. And the next day ends up being the day before that. Each day Jen is waking up in the past, and she believes it is an opportunity to change Todd's future. Somewhere in the past, Jen is determined to save her son from the events that unfold in the future. Listened to this one on audio, which was really well done and recommended.

Reviewer's Name: Shannon
Genres:
Grave Peril
Butcher, Jim
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The third book in the Dresden Files, Grave Peril continues the adventures of Chicago’s resident wizard as he takes on ghosts, godmothers, and ghoulish vampires. While it’s definitely an improvement from Fool Moon, Grave Peril still has some of the misogynistic flaws of the series’ titular character. On the plus side, we finally get to delve into deeper lore for the series. And we get Michael. He’s the best new character in this series and by far my favorite for many reasons—mainly because how he does things differently than Dresden.

I’ll admit that it took me a while to get through this book, which felt odd considering the action was superb, the writing was proficient, and the story was thrilling. For some reason, I didn’t feel the motivation to continue reading and went weeks between picking it up and continuing. I think if I had read it all as quickly as possible, then it might have earned another half-star. I know it’s not this book’s fault for my inability to focus on reading to save my life (thanks to the pandemic; I think). Perhaps there’s something subconscious about this book that prevented me from devouring it, though.

Since the Dresden Files are mainly written through the POV of Harry Dresden, this might be my biggest qualm right now. I absolutely adore all the new characters introduced in this book, but I cringe at all the obvious instances of “men writing women” that have persisted since book one. In fact, I’d almost rather have an entire series from Michael’s point of view, because he seems much more interesting in his denim-wearing, sword-wielding ways. I’ll still continue with this series, but only to see where it takes Michael.

Great new characters and a deeper dive into the lore, I give Grave Peril 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Bell Jar
Plath, Sylvia
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

You will understand why she was so depressed and attempted suicide three times after reading this novel. It tells the tale of a young girl who suffers a lot throughout her entire life. All the events of her life are beautifully executed with the help of Easter's character in this novel. Sylvia wants to be a poet, but society forces her to be a housewife, have children, or someone else. Sylvia Plath's father dies when she most needs him. Being without a father means you are alone with creatures in this cruel world that does not care about anyone. She seems very lonely, and sometimes she feels like she is in a bell jar, like a dead baby. She is depressed by the silence. It is not the silence of silence, it is her own silence. The novel also depicts the situation of women in the 1940s they were supposed to do what their men wanted them to do. If the person is loyal, he should get the same person, but that is not the case with Slviya Plath. Every boy friend she finds has an affair with another woman. She sacrifices her body for the peace of mind and her virginity for the sake of experience.

Reviewer's Name: Nasir
Paper Towns book jacket
Green, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Paper Towns by John Green is a thrilling, coming-of-age mystery. Readers get to solve the mystery along with the main character. The book provides interesting insights and a sense of grounded wonder and sparks deep thought about our own reality of life and inevitable death. It follows senior Quentin Jacobsen on a wild journey with dreamy but unattainable childhood friend later drifted away, Margo Roth Spiegelman. The mystery that surrounds her the next day is sure to excite readers with fear but also curiosity as they journey with Quentin inside his mind on the sublime adventure to uncover her whereabouts. On many occasions I found myself unable to stop reading even though the book took me into the late hours of the night. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for an exciting venture into the unknown!

Reviewer's Name: Yining
We Were Liars book jacket
E. Lockhart
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

We Were Liars is a mysterious young adult novel about a wealthy family who spends every summer on their private island. The story focuses on the main character, Cadence. After Cadence suffers a head injury during one of the summers, she cannot remember almost anything from that trip to the island. The next summer things are very different and Cadence has to try and remember why.
This book is quite a page-turner. As Cadence slowly remembers more and more details of the mysterious summer when she suffered her head injury, it is nearly impossible to put the book down. However, not all page-turners are necessarily great books. The story of We Were Liars may have been intriguing, but the content was not very substantial. There didn’t really seem to be any morals, and if there were, they weren’t very clear. Things just happened throughout the story, and although it was a mystery, nothing was truly deep or thought-provoking

Reviewer's Name: Liam
Murder on the Orient Express book jacket
Christie, Agatha
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Murder on the Orient Express is a compelling Christie mystery. The book is steady and methodical: after the initial inciting incident, each of the passengers are questioned in order. Then, the evidence is reviewed and the conclusion comes easily to the detective. This novel was a straightforward, easy read, but I found it was better enjoyed by just sitting back and reading. Formulating theories, from the perspective of the reader, is relatively difficult due to key details being under developed when first introduced in the book. Therefore, the detective is better informed than the reader throughout the mystery, which took away some of the intrigue for me. Ultimately, however, the ending was satisfying, and Murder on the Orient Express is a well-written, captivating read.

Reviewer's Name: Samah
And Then There Were None book jacket
Christie, Agatha
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Any fan of mysteries should read And Then There Were None because it is such a wonderfully refreshing book. It is understandable why the book continues to have an impact decades after its release. Following And Then There Were None is not that difficult. Yes, it's a mystery, so pay attention (or at least keep track of who's passing and when), but the book doesn't aim to mislead its readers with unusual text. Guilt and justice are two of And Then There Were None's themes. Every visitor taken to the island is charged with an unfounded murder. As the death toll climbs, visitors struggle in various ways with their own personal emotions of guilt. Justice Wargrave's confession clarifies the notion of justice. Those who loved And There Were None like me should read more of Agatha Christie's work or if you want to read a book similar to And Then There Were None I recommend The Guest List by Lucy Foley. Overall, I loved Agatha Christie's novel And Then There Were None because of how it always kept readers on the edge.
Grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: Anushka
The Silent Patient book jacket
Michaelides, Alex
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Initially, the premise of this book caught my attention: a psychotherapist sees a patient who murdered her husband years ago (as revealed in the opening line) and has not spoken since. Without spoilers, the story is told in a fascinating way, and Michaelides makes the most of his creative freedom in the medium of novels. Right after I finished reading, I thought the book perfect for what it sought out to do; however, upon further reflection, I feel it missed the spark that makes a good book. Yes, the story was interesting and the flow of events was steady, but by the last third I felt there wasn't enough struggle or buildup to make the progress with Alicia impressive. The novel told two stories simultaneously (the one of Theo's wife and the one of his patient), which was a great artistic choice, but I think that left each individual plotline underdeveloped in the 300 page novel. The Silent Patient is well-written, organized, and unsettling. Although I struggle to grasp the greater message behind the nuanced story Michaelides told, I definitely enjoyed reading it.

Reviewer's Name: Samah
A Quiet Life book jacket
Joella, Ethan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Quiet Life by Ethan Joella is an emotional, heartwarming story about human connection. Joella’s story tackles grief and loss, all the while remaining light-hearted and hopeful. A Quiet Life takes on the perspective of three different people, all struggling with their own hardships and trials. Chuck, an elderly man mourning the death of his wife, must decide whether or not he should venture back to their vacation home for their yearly trip. The pain is too much to bear, and imagining himself being there alone is heart wrenching. Ella, a single mother working a newspaper job, is trying desperately to find her missing daughter. Kirsten works at an animal rescue and tries her best to serve the community. However, after the quick and tragic murder of her father at a convenience store, Kirsten can hardly find the light in life again. A Quiet Life shows the intricacies and hardships that come with loss, all the while connecting every missing piece, and showing us how togetherness is what keeps us afloat.
(Reviewer Grade: 12)

Reviewer's Name: Hanna
The Last Cuentista
Higuera, Barba Donna,
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Donna Barba Higuera takes on a futuristic dystopian space adventure in her story The Last Cuentista. A young, curious girl named Petra lives in a distant timeline on Earth, where scientists are helplessly searching for a way to avoid certain doom. While in the face of death, Preta leans on her abuelita’s stories, which are rich and full of life. Yet, as the clock starts ticking and Petra is forced to leave it all behind, the one thing she keeps with her is the power of tales. The Last Cuentista is a brilliantly written novel depicting a world in space, where the connection and true heart of human-kind is severed. Petra shows the reader what true perseverance is, and reminds us all of what it means to truly be human.
(Reviewer Grade: 12)

Reviewer's Name: Hanna
Matched book jacket
Condie, Allie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a wonderful, amazing, trilling book! I love the descriptive language and the way its laid out, you never want to stop reading it. it makes you want more. if you read this book, which you should, you need to read the other books as well. It’s a thought-provoking, engaging dystopian novel with the stereotypical love triangle at the center. Condie does a good job setting the scene and the overall vibe. However, I was very disappointed when Cassia burned her grandfather's poems. If she doesn't have the courage to keep a piece of paper, that has been in her family for generations, how will she have the strength to do anything? This is a great book, the characters are developed well and the story is intriguing. (Spoiler) The only thing I would change is Xander at the end, where he lets Cassia go. I know that he is understanding and all, but I think it would be more appropriate for him to want Cassia to stay with him forever, and ever since the pill incident with Ky, he'd like to follow the rules. I really like the storyline and the fact that Cassia is different and doesn’t fit into what people expect of her. Also, I think she used too much show not tell as I don’t see why Cassia likes Ky or how on earth Xander would be a perfect match. I feel like she left the important bits out and kept what wasn’t interesting Other than the few complaints I have, Matched is a book that I would recommend to any Romance or Dystopian fans.
Reviewer's Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Anushka
Unwind book jacket
Shusterman, Neal
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Unwind has a fresh, fascinating, and frankly genius premise: after a war is fought on abortion, the U.S. government passes legislature allowing parents to sign an order to "unwind" their teenagers. The teen is then taken apart, and each body part is used for transplants. Like any good dystopia, the concept poses a number of thought-provoking questions that the book tries to address, like "do we have souls?" or "what makes a person themself?" or "how scary is it to be unwound, really?", and it answers them with varying degrees of success. Unwind is an excellent conversation starter; it is riddled with nuanced philosophical ideas which are, at times, uniquely terrifying. However, that's where the problems with Unwind lie: the intrigue doesn't stretch much farther than the initial concepts. Shusterman is talented at worldbuilding, and every new detail of Unwind's dystopia is interesting, inspired, absurd, and simultaneously realistic. Unfortunately, the story fails to make use of this inherent intrigue. Much of the reader's time is spent spectating characters as they shuttle from one location to another. They have minimal development, or, when they do have development, it is sudden and drastic. Shusterman builds a vivid universe only to guide readers through the dullest corners. Unwind is worth a read for the conversation, not the story. If a reader expects the average teenage dystopia, they should pick another book; but if they want fresh perspectives, creative horror, and possibly a hint of existential dread, Unwind is the perfect read.

Reviewer's Name: Samah
The Picture of Dorian Gray book jacket
Wilde, Oscar
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

At first, I only picked this book as a classic for school, but I quickly learned it's a classic for a reason. I'd known of the general plot of the novel where a portrait reveals the ugliness of the inside of a man while he remains young, but the way it's written and described makes the full story. The story starts with painter Basil basically putting so much work and devotion into a portrait of Dorian Gray, the painting comes to life. Dorian wishes to stay forever young, and the painting reflects his evilness (vanity, etc.). I enjoyed the sense of mysticism and how everything connects to the theme of appearances are not what they seem. Dorian looks beautiful, but his actions (the thing that makes a person) are grotesque and horrid. The gothic fiction genre is reflected by the dark evilness of Dorian's actions and the magic of the portrait. This book is my favorite class I read this year and the plot surprised me with the characters always returning and a sense of incompletedness when characters leave. If you're looking for a medium-read classic with thought-provoking ideas, then this is for you!
Reviewer Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Tisha
The Girl Who Dared To Think book jacket
Forrest, Bella
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The first book in this dystopian series, The Girl Who Dared To Think takes readers on an adventure to a post apocalyptic world where one girl struggles to fit in. Liana Castell has never fit in with her parents or instructors expectations. Living in the Tower, a large glass home for all those left, requires citizens to wear a band displaying a ranking. The most loyal to the tower receive number close to a 10, while those at 3 or lower receive treatment and many disappear. When Liana meets a man who has a ranking of a ten, though obviously is not deserving of it, she fights to find him and uncover the deep secrets of the Tower.
The book will keep you guessing the whole way through and leave you wanting to read the next.

Reviewer's Name: McKenna
Circe book jacket
Miller, Madeline
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Critically acclaimed author Madline Miller takes on Greek mythology in a way never done before. In her novel Circe, a lonely child, born from the sun god Helios and a nymph mother, tries to find her way within a world where she does not quite fit. Her father is too powerful to relate to, and her mother wishes Circe had not been born. Not to mention, Circe’s siblings dislike her greatly, and make her life insufferable. It is only when her father, Helios, sends her away to a secluded island where she cannot leave, that she finds the missing piece she has been looking for all her life. Filled with secret romances, magic, sea monsters, mysterious sailors, and man-pigs, Circe is a novel that will wreck your heart and leave you angry for justice. Her isolation is familiar to us all, and reminds us of the importance of loving ourselves. This is a must read!
Reviewer - Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Hanna
Cathedral of the Sea
Falcones, Ildefonso
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Cathedral Of The Sea closely follows true events in Catalonia during the 1300s under King Pedro’s reign. It is about the cruelty of the Holi persons and the king of that time. As the men of God, they take best food and live luxurious life. On the other side, people are dying from hunger, different kind of diseases and they have nothing to feed their children especially the Jews. Jews are killed by Christians just because of their religion even they think Jews do not have the right to live. In this novel, religion is broadly used to terrify the people and to maintain rule over them. Sometimes, these kind of holy persons get their soul poisoned because of their greedy nature. Everyone should have the right to follow his/ her religion freely.

Reviewer's Name: Muhammad N.
The Heroine's Journey
Carriger, Gail
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

When I started writing over a decade ago, I subconsciously modeled my story structures off the stories that I enjoyed. I didn't go into my first novel with the plan to make it the typical "Hero's Journey," and the result was far from it. The stories I was writing seemed to work, even if they didn't abide by the known structure many authors had used before me. The problem was, I didn't have a name for the style of story I was writing. After reading Gail Carriger's book, The Heroine's Journey, I can finally label the stories I write.

Carriger makes it clear that stories that follow the Heroine's Journey don't always have females in the lead role. Instead, the Heroine's Journey is the antithesis of the Hero's Journey. Where the Hero's Journey is about individual achievement and sacrifice, the Heroine's Journey is more about building community to tackle a problem larger than any one individual. There are a lot of YA works out there that hold to the Heroine's Journey much more than the Hero's Journey, which is probably why it can hold its own in today's society.

As with most books on writing, there are plenty of examples provided in The Heroine's Journey. This helped me identify where I was using this structure in my writing, since these comp titles correlated with what I had already written. My only qualm with this book is in some of the formatting. There were quite a few moments where I couldn't tell if the author was trying to emphasize a point, use a quote from one of the books she had written, or just break up the pages of normal text with something different. Still, if you can get past these odd moments, there is a lot of truth within these pages.

A non-traditional story structure with a proven track record, I give The Heroine's Journey 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
The Man in the High Castle
Dick, Philip K.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

While I haven't seen the Amazon TV series based on this book, I had enough awareness of the basic premise going in. An alternate reality where the Allies lost World War II felt like such an interesting concept, I had to read the book that spawned this idea. Of course, I also enjoy Philip K. Dick's writing for the same reasons: he has novel ideas that he executes well. Unfortunately, I found The Man in the High Castle to be underwhelming.

To Dick's credit, his world-building for a history where Japan took over part of the United States after World War II felt quite thorough. Little subtle ways that people act, economies based on American antiques, as well as other differences that made sense with such a drastic change to history. The problem is, Dick was so focused on world-building that he forgot to write an actual story. None of the characters really stick out, and the titular Man in the High Castle is a Maguffin at best. I was left disappointed, which is rare for a Philip K. Dick story for me.

Maybe modern action thrillers have ruined this story for me, but when there are vast swaths of text dedicated to counterfeit antiques instead of forced cultural changes for the residents of the United States, a story like this can get boring quite quickly. If I had to pinpoint the worst part about this book, it's that the ending was not at all satisfying. There should have been something that better explained the book that told of an alternate history, considering how provocative the rest of this book made it seem.

An underwhelming execution for a top-notch idea, I give The Man in the High Castle 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
Candide
Voltaire
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The novel “Candide” is a satire on the philosophy of optimism given by German philosopher Wilhelm Leibniz. The concept of Optimism suggests that everything is going to end well in this best world. It was written by Voltaire, one of the most famous and well-read novelists in the world. The word "Candide" means an innocent, simple, and kind-hearted person. The protagonist of the novel traverses across the world and comes across many disasters and faces many hurdles. Pangloss defends optimism by saying that everything happens in this best world for a reason, and it doesn't matter whether it is good or deplorable.
The story opens with Candide, who lives in a noble castle. In the beginning, he is a strong believer of his master's optimism. But as the story proceeds on, Candide gradually begins to doubt in optimism when he is expelled from his castle for loving the daughter of the Baron. After that, another incident happens as the Bulgarians attack the castle of Baron and burn it to the ground, and they massacre all the ladies and children without mercy. After having seen all this, Candide is forced to say that if this world is the best, then why are all these disasters happening to those who don't deserve to be punished? Optimism is useful, and he calls it
"The mania of maintaining that everything is well when we are wretched."
After being expelled from his hometown, he enters the country of Eldorado and receives a very warm welcome from the people of this country. Here, the people nature lover, and their behaviour towards guests is very good and polite. This place is full of beautiful, prodigious mountains, green fields, people love each other, and Candide falls in love with this place. They are with four soups and two roasted monkeys for dinner without taking money. Candide thinks Pangloss was right: all is for the best. The dilemma of Candide about optimism goes on throughout the novel.
Candide offers us some significant themes. Let’s discuss those one by one. On many occasions, the cruelty of people can also be clearly seen in this book. For instance, on his way to Suriname, he sees a physically impaired negro. Candide asks him who did to you?, and the negro replies that we are given only a pair of cotton drawers as clothing twice an year. We work in sugar mills, and when we are tired of working and try to run away or refuse to work, they (white men) cut our legs and hands. We pay this price for the sugar you eat in Europe. His sorrows wrench us when he says animals are also less miserable than we are and he questions we too are human beings and the children of Adam, then why are we treated so horribly?
The tale of an old woman is also very painful. She is the daughter of Pop Urban X and the princess of Palestrina. She is a beautiful lass of honour with blue eyes and curly hair. While she is travelling with her mother to another place named Gaeta, they are attacked and captured by a Salle pirate. It is not easy for a princess to be taken with her mother as a slave to Morocco. She is still a virgin, but doesn't remain long. The flower that was reserved for the Prince of Massa Carrara is now perished by a negro who thinks he is doing her a great honour. Her mother and other women are raped and torn into pieces by these scoundrels.
Candide is a kind of character that shows we should not lose hope or impulse to reach our destination. For instance, Candide is kicked out of his castle because of his love for Cunegonde, whom he adores so much. then it is also reported that Cunegonde is dead, but he doesn't believe it, and after struggling for a long time, he finds her again and loses her again, but at last he marries his buff because he was determined to find her and never gave up.
The same whimsy is highlighted by Mian Muhammad Bakhsh in his tale “ Saif ul Malook”. The prince falls in love with a fairy named “Badi u Jamal”and sees her in his dreams. He sets out on a journey to find her, even though he doesn't know where she lives. His determination leads him to his fairy.
Giving power to someone over others makes people evil. The person to whom you give power will begin using it against others. As Shakespeare says:
"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
With great power there also comes great responsibility. According to the testimony of philosophers, exalted rank is very dangerous. For example, Eglon, the king of Moabites, was murdered by Ehud, and kings like Zedekiah and Jeconiah were made slaves. They all were perished because they had used their power for dark purposes. At the end of the day,
"We have to cultivate our garden.” (Voltaire)
Men are never contented with what they have, and their greed is unlimited. I think Tolstoy was right.
"Men are greedy by their nature."
After becoming the Prince of Persia, Candide rewards significant scientists and literary but they are still not satisfied and happy. Candide is quite with human nature and knows that men will never be satisfied with whatever they get because of their greedy nature, which cannot be changed easily.
In short, Candide is a master piece of Voltaire, and effects its readers deeply. Before reading it, I was desperate to know Voltaire's view on optimism. I enjoyed it a lot and might read it again because of its readable and diverse meaning under the layers.

Reviewer's Name: Muhammad N.
The Song of Achilles
Miller, Madeline
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Song of Achilles was written in 2011 by American writer Madeline Miller. It is an adoption of Homer's Iliad and is a retelling of the great Greek warrior Achilles. The tale is told from the perspective of Patroclus. The novel follows the romantic relationship between Patroclus and Achilles as it is written in the novel.

*"He is half of my soul, as the poets say."*
*Madeline Miller, by using their relationship, is trying to show the role of men in ancient Greek society and how homosexuality was viewed in that era. The most pleasing thing about this novel is Miller's poetic writing and how beautifully she has painted the vivid picture of the emotions of all the characters, and it has taken me into another world while I was reading.
There are some debates that have been going on for centuries until today. For example, the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles has been debated for centuries, and still there is no clear evidence of whether they were lovers or close comrades. The second one is that Helen was the cause of the Trojan War, and destroying thousands of ships and men just for a woman is foolishness. As Dr. Faustus says:

*"Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium?"*
Mean by there, is she that much beautiful that kings are willing to destroy anything?

The novel also contains many themes. The first one is *"honour and pride".* Achilles fights for his honour because he wants his name to be remembered, in the same way Agamemnon and Menelaus fight for their pride, which they lost when Helen was kidnapped by the king of Troy. For Greeks, honour and pride is everything, and they prefer to sacrifice their lives over honour and glory. They believe that sometimes violence is needed to prove one's pride. As it is set down in the text:

" *The sons of Troy are known for their skill in battle, and their deaths will lift your name to the stars."*

The second major theme is *impulse to show power*. Achilles, Agamemnon, and Menelaus fight for power and want to have control over their lives; one of the biggest reasons for participating in battle is to showcase their power. Besides this,the powerlessness of women like Helen, Briseis, and Deidmeia can be seen in the novel. Agamemnon treats Briseis badly as a wench or a war prize, and also, Helen is forced to choose a husband even though she doesn't want a husband.

*To conclude* , the novel is a wonderful piece of literature and deserves to be read because the way Medellin Miller has described all the events and feelings of all the characters makes you feel the same.

Reviewer's Name: Muhammad N.