All Book Reviews

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

This book was really good. It had a really interesting plot line and was hard to put down! It was very cool and had interesting ideas. However, there is some mild language.

Reviewer's Name: Tyler
Genres:
Unbroken
Hillenbrand, Laura
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Unbroken, is a book of suffering, friendship, strength, and journey's throughout life. The story takes place in the Pacific War of WW2, following the struggle of Louie Zamperini. Louie's life starts out "untameable" drinking, stealing, and running from the cops at the early age of 10, he cause quite the mischief in his home town of Torrance, California. Later on in high school Louie is going down the wrong path, until his brother turns him around and sets him on the path of becoming an Olympic runner. Louie runs in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and places 8th. Next thing you know World War Two breaks out, Louie joins the Army Air Corp and becomes a bombardier of a b-24 plane.

Next in the story, whilst on a rescue mission the "Green Hornet" a faulty B-24 crashes into the pacific ocean, taking Louie and his flight crew with it. Mac, Phil, and Louie survive the initial plane crash and face many challenges at sea. Mac dies along the way, but Louie and Phil survive 47 days at sea before being captured by the Japanese. Phil and Louie are quickly put into a Japanese p.o.w camp, where they are abused, tortured, overworked, and starved.

To avoid spoilers, I won't go further into the story, and if Louie and Phil survive or not. I HIGHLY recommend this book, it's a great eye opener for PTSD, and the Pacific side of WWII, along with intense suspense, struggle, and development of the main characters. Laura Hillenbrand does a great job or portraying this hero and survivor's story.

Reviewer's Name: Payton
The Far Side of the World
O'Brian, Patrick
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Nautical historical fiction is a rare genre for me to read. The last one I read—and that most people would be able to recognize—was Moby-Dick , and that was probably 15 years ago. Needless to say, I found myself in brief possession of The Far Side of the World and decided to give it a read. Of course, this was mostly because of the movie of the same name released in 2003 that earned many Oscar nominations (only winning in two). While the plot of both is slightly different in a few key areas, I wasn’t disappointed with having read this book.

First, as a historical look into the realms of sailing and whaling at the time, The Far Side of the World does a fantastic job of informing and educating the reader without necessarily resorting to huge exposition dumps. Sure, a few moments were a little obvious that the author was trying to get information across as quickly as possible, but these were rare. Secondly, this book seemed to include an exhaustive amount of problems that you’d encounter when sailing the seas. This meant that each page of each chapter had something the crew was trying to overcome, even if this seemed like a distraction at most times.

While the main thrust and driver of the plot of The Far Side of the World was clear from the start, my one qualm with this book was its inability to transition from one thought to the next. It sure had a steady pace, like a ship cutting through calm waters. Sometimes, though, the different topics would come in a choppy way that made me double back and re-read a page to make sure I didn’t miss some crucial transition (which were rarely there). Perhaps this adds to the realism of the “things happen without expecting them” element of sailing. Far too often, I found myself trying to figure out why this minor sub-plot mattered before it changed to something else entirely.

A thorough and steady-paced nautical historical fiction, I give The Far Side of the World 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Schneider, Steven Jay
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As a movie aficionado, it was only a matter of time before I picked up this book. At the time, the 5th edition covered most of the films that were out at the time, but I do realize there are more recent versions of this book that include some of the latest hits of the last decade. Not one to use this book as a simple desk reference, I took the time to sit down and read through the reviews of these 1,000+ movies. In the time since buying this book, I’ve managed to increase my percentage of films seen, but there’s still a long way to go.

Even before I started reading this book, I had already seen a good portion of the movies mentioned, many of which won critical awards for their achievements. With a concerted effort, I’m now sitting at 42% of these 1001 movies seen in my short lifetime. Having read the reviews of the rest of them, I can honestly say there are still plenty of films out there that pique my interest. Many of these cinematic masterpieces are merely unwatched because I haven’t gotten around to them yet, despite their cinematic accolades.

Overall, though, there were times where I’d watch a movie contained on this list and wonder, “why is this here?” 1001 films is a lengthy list, so there was undoubtedly going to be “filler” on this list. Then again, everyone’s tastes are different. While I feel movies were missing from this edition (likely removed from previous versions to make room for newer ones), it’s still a robust set. Not everything is “artistic” or “award-winning,” which is fine because, as the book mentions, “Sometimes you want a nice steak, and sometimes you just want a greasy hamburger.”

A robust set of cinema, I give 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
The Book of Hidden Things
Dimitri, Francesco
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

'The Book of Hidden Things' is a fantasy story of 4 friends Tony, Fabio, Art, and Mauro. These friends from a small town Casalfranca in Italy, make a pact to meet every year. When Art doesn't show up this year, Tony, Fabio, and Mauro decide to check what happened to him.

While they search for him, they learn mysterious information about Art, his life, his research, and things become more complicated and confusing. When Mauro gets fired by Art's ex-girlfriend, they all step back thinking about the risk they are taking to find Art. At last, Art shows up, reveals information about his research and forces them to trust him and take an important decision with their lives.

There are no words to explain how good this book is! The narration is very gripping and the mystery lingers till the end of the book and even after finishing the book. Characterization is simply superb. While Art is a unique character, Tony is a wonderful mate, Mauro, a responsible husband and friend who is guilty of leaving behind his favorite hobby of playing guitar and Fabio is a person with his insecurities and money problems.

I could get a glimpse of Southern Italy, the weather, the scenery, and the cuisine as well through this book. The book cover and the name are apt.

If you love mystery and fantasy, you will like this book. But, fantasy and mystery feel very real.

Reviewer's Name: Mahati
Genres:
Old Man's War
Scalzi, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

An excellent adult Sci-Fi novel in a future where to join humanity's military, the CDF, you must be 75 years old. Interesting takes on aliens, human interactions with other species, and combat. Be warned, there are sections of this book that go quite in depth about the background of certain story elements and they can seem long winded, but they all contribute to the story at large. Great read and hard to put down once you've found a little traction.

Reviewer's Name: Kyle
Out of My Mind
Draper, Sharon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is a really good book that I have read many times. It’s about a girl who lives with Cerebral Palsey and finds a new machine to “talk”. This story is about her frustrations and triumphs that only you can see.

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

This is a book about a girl who finds out she's an elf. She is brought into the lost cities by Fitz, another elf. Every elf in this world has a special talent: Conjurer, Mesmer, Vanisher, Guster, and the forbidden: Pyrokenetic. Sophie, the girl, finds out that she is a Telepath. She can read minds! And she has to stop the mysterious white fires that are burning in human cities. Could a Pyrokenetic be setting them?

Reviewer's Name: Madeline
Awards:
Genres:
Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau
Berne, Jennifer
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This biography of Jacques Cousteau uses beautiful pictures to illustrate the text. It introduces us to the tiny baby born in France and names Jacques. It chronicles his love of water and how his passion for the ocean developed. It shows us how he dreamed to becoming a “manfish” with the ability to breathe underwater and explore. He grew to be one of the greatest oceanographers in the world and a champion of the sea. The book is both inspiring and magical.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Awards:
Interrupting Chicken
Stein, David Ezra
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Papa is trying to read little red chicken a story at bedtime, but she keeps interrupting. She can’t help herself! She inserts herself into the story of Hansel & Gretel. She jumps into the story of Little Red Riding Hood. She changes the story of Chicken Little. Will little red chicken ever stop interrupting and go to sleep? Find out when you read this story.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
The Clue Is in the Poop: And Other Things Too
Seed, Andy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Using the clues they've left behind, you can learn to track and identify animals and this book will help. It will introduce you animal tracking through observing what's left behind whether it is poop, tracks, or more. You'll learn about what animals eat (and therefore, what you might find in their poop). You'll learn fascinating facts about a variety of animals and start on your way to become a wildlife detective.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Outrun the Moon
Lee, Stacey
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I tore through this book. Mercy is strong and inspirational, but also displays characteristics not normally seen in fictional characters. All of the girls seem ahead of their time and are well-rounded and friendly. Mercy does not have everything handed to her on a silver platter, and she must work for what she wants. This book is realistic, fits the time period, and is very interesting.

Reviewer's Name: Brenna D.
Genres:
The Point
Dixon, John
2 stars = Meh
Review:

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER***

With the rise in popularity of the superhero genre, it was only a matter of time before it leaked into other genres. While some genres like steampunk (like in The Esper Files ) make for an interesting twist, others like military YA sci-fi are so similar as to be just one other entry in the zeitgeist. The problem with this is that other, more famous handlings of supernatural superpowers bring much more to the table than books like The Point (which doesn’t necessarily add much to either genre on the whole).

As far as I could gather, there are only three or four different “types” of mutants in The Point: telekinetic, pyrokinesis, super strength, and “other” (like dream manipulation and energy storage, the latter of which was reasonably original). I suppose franchises like X-Men and One Piece, which give each of their unique characters unique superpowers and rarely (if ever) repeat themselves, is what ruined this book for me. This only added to the sense of the faceless military machine presented in this book, as few characters stood out to me at all.

Furthermore, I didn’t like the main character at all. Sure, most YA (and this is mature YA at that—an oxymoron, I know) start with a character who needs to undergo growth by the end of the story. However, I don’t need a main character that’s so fully flawed for so long that I end up hating her before she even learns anything. This, added with numerous questions I had that were never answered, plenty of redundant and boring sections, and the fact that I wholeheartedly agreed with the villain meant that I didn’t particularly like this book.

A book that’s likely trying to cash in on superhero and/or YA trends, I give The Point 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.

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