All Book Reviews

Keeping Corner
Sheth, Kashmira
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Keeping Corner" by Kashmira Sheth is about a young Indian girl named Leela who struggles with the unfair traditions of her culture. She is about to get married and everything seems to be going well until her fiance is bitten by a poisonous snake and dies forcing Leela to become a widow. Since she is a widow she must keep corner which is an Indian tradition for female widows where women and young girls must stay inside for a year, shave their head, remove their jewelry, etc. While she is forced to keep corner she sees how unfair things really are and that she must use her voice to make a difference.

I would recommend this book. "Keeping Corner" really made me realize the unjust things women have to go through in other countries. I read this book for a geography project, but I ended up liking it. I couldn't relate to Leela but I could relate to her brother because when he tried to introduce modern ideas no one listened to him or valued what he was trying to say. The book was not predictable. "Keeping Corner" is the best book I have read so far this year.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Genres:
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Larsson, Stieg
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Now that I’ve finished the third book in this series, I realize it falls into the “trilogy conundrum” of having a strong, standalone first part, followed by two sequels that rely on each other to finish out the story. Heck, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest should have just been Part 3 of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo since it completed the story arc started back in book one. I had my suspicions this book would continue from the exact moment where The Girl Who Played with Fire ended. After all, there were a ton of loose ends, and the story ended abruptly.

Part of my issue with this book was that it was primarily tasked with tying up all the subplots from the first two books. However, it still felt like it needed to spend time on new storylines that didn’t add much to the overall plot and were only there because the main character wasn’t able to do anything interesting. I also didn’t particularly like how some of these story elements concluded, as they felt unfulfilling (the resolution of the conflict with Lisbeth’s father stands out in particular). Overall, these two qualms made the book drag on longer than I think it should have.

There were still some positive elements in this book, including the trial of Lisbeth Salander. In fact, this coup de grace was by far the most entertaining section of the entire trilogy. I also appreciated the tension created early on when Lisbeth was in the hospital, as well as the action in the Epilogue that tied up the very last loose end of the trilogy. In the end, I still think this trilogy was a good read. It’s just that its final volume
felt a little bloated and distracted at times.

A mostly satisfying conclusion to the original Millennium series, I give The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Artemis Fowl
Colfer, Eoin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

With the movie adaptation of this book coming out in a few months, I figured the premise of Artemis Fowl looked interesting enough that I’d want to read it before seeing the film. After all, a child genius going up against fantasy forces sounded like it would be entertaining. Overall, this was true. Granted, this book starts one of those classic Young Adult series that’s actually meant for children, so I can forgive a bit of its bathroom humor—but only to a point. Still, I found the fusion of modern technology and fantasy elements to be the strength of this book.

Much in the vein of the science fantasy genre, Artemis Fowl uses scientific principles and concepts to explain the numerous phenomena connected to creatures like fairies, dwarves, and trolls. It only makes sense that these creatures would evolve technologically along with humanity. Being able to explain how these creatures could remain undetected for thousands of years was nearly as engaging as the technology used to find them. The fact that this book only gave me a taste of what’s capable in this universe makes me want to come back and read the rest of the series.

Aside from the aforementioned bathroom humor (and some more adult jokes that probably aren't for children), my one qualm with this book is that the titular character doesn’t seem to play a huge role in the proceedings. I mean, I get that he’s a criminal mastermind working from the shadows, but I found the character so interesting in the few moments where he appears that I wanted more of him. Instead, many chapters focused on the military-fantasy world of the fairies, and I’m not that into military-based stories anyway.

A classic YA military science fantasy, I give Artemis Fowl 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
Genres:
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire
August, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Having already read Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon, I decided to go back and read the book that kicked off this series. While I already knew what had happened in Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire—as the sequel frequently referenced it—I still appreciated reading the details myself. I had a few questions and concerns that I hoped this book would address, and only about half of them were answered to my satisfaction. Still, I did enjoy this Harry Potter and Boy Scouts mashup, even if it is literally that.

In the sequel, I definitely got the Harry Potter vibe, but I fully realized the almost 1-for-1 influence of the J.K. Rowling series on this series when I read this book. Unsuspectingly powerful main character with a unique physical trait? Check. Overachieving female friend? Check. Somewhat bumbling male friend? Check. Different groups categorized via character traits? Check. All I’m saying is that it would have been nice to see something that wasn’t so entirely derivative of the Harry Potter formula. As it is, I’d recommend the Arlo Finch series to anyone who loves the Harry Potter series.

While I also really enjoyed the infusion of the Boy Scout-esque “Rangers” to the Harry Potter formula, I’m still not sure I believe this book’s explanation for why most people aren’t aware of these supernatural happenings. Sure, they can’t be photographed, but when the uninitiated families of these kids are brought together for a Court of Honor where they hand out merit badges for “Wards” and other supernatural activities, I
can’t help but think that the parents would get suspicious of what’s really going on in this organization. It’s kind of hard to keep all these magical things a secret when you’re giving out awards for them.

A solid Harry Potter adaptation wrapped in the trappings of the Boy Scouts, I give Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Sleep No More
Pike, Aprilynne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I could not put it down. Surprise
ending that didn't end the way most books do. I am excited to have found this
author, cant wait to read another by Aprilynne Pike.

Reviewer's Name: Janelle
Girl, Wash Your Face
Hollis, Rachel
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This book wasn't bad. I finished it. I even got two takeaways: Don't compare yourself to others, and don't worry about weight so much as being in shape (paraphrased). However, I did not agree with her assessment of people using prescribed drugs for anxiety, depression, and sleep as being unnecessary. She said it twice in the book. Also, she holds herself up as the standard to which we should all aspire, not on purpose, it was just a side effect of the book. It was okay for a rah rah book, but I wouldn't recommend it to my friends.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Daisy Jones & the Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Daisy Jones & the Six is a telling of the eponymous band's tumultuous story, by the band and in interview format. Its kind of: Almost Famous -The Fleetwood Mac Story. There's drugs, sex (some consensual), drugs, rock & roll and drugs! There are a lot of drugs. But mostly, there's an intensely readable character study about a bunch of talented young people who couldn't get out of their own way.

At the recommendation of a friend and colleague, I read one of Reid's other books, the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and I adored it. When I was approved for Reid's newest on Netgalley, I was pretty excited and rightly so: this book did not let me down. It truly is a book about complex characters told against the gritty, adrenaline filled background of rock & roll in the 70s. I sometimes felt I was almost at the concert, waiting the wings, electrified. The atmosphere was to die for. But again, the characters are the whole thing. Daisy and Billy, our two main characters, were both interesting to read for their own reasons, but my favorite by far was Karen. I did a fair amount of highlighting in this book, and most of those lines belonged to Karen (the rest, Daisy). This book is just dying to be made into a movie (a google search reveals, that, even better - its been optioned as a tv mini-series on Prime! Dream casting: Jenny Lewis should play Daisy Jones. Digression over.) as the characters practically spring off the page. Really, the only downside for me was that it didn't feel new. I've read versions of this story before. But this is a great version of that story, and if you like a good tortured romance, or have felt moved by music, I think this book will make you feel something. I did. 4 stars - I really liked it.

Thanks to Netgalley and Ballentine Books for the advance copy, which I received in exchange for an honest review. Daisy Jones & the Six is available on 05 March, but you can put your copy on hold today.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop
Weatherford, Carole Boston
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

So glad this book was added to the PPLD collection! The illustrations are incredible. The glossary is amazing! Must read!!!

Reviewer's Name: Aisha
Book Reviews: The Handmaid's Tale
Atwood, Margaret
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is old school dystopian literature. Atwood nails it. It's likely the best dystopian novel I have ever read.

Offred is a handmaid, a woman set aside for breeding purposes. Her only desire is to survive, but her memories push their way up into her mind. She had a husband and a child and they are gone. What broke my heart were the memories of her beloved child. It's so softly touched upon that it shows itself as a raw wound that she can barely handle.

Well told and powerful, I give this book 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Red Rising
Brown, Pierce
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Red Rising adds maturity and depth to the dystopian novel genre, culminating into something more interesting and deep than the average dystopian series. The plot is set on Mars in a society separated into castes with the lowest of castes being extorted into serving the higher ones. The story is raw, emotional, and overall a worthwhile read. However, at times the plot progresses at a slower pace than desirable and occasionally the main character is rather robotic. Taking this into account the book remains enjoyable and I would recommend it to people looking for more out of the dystopian genre.

Reviewer's Name: Evan T
World War Z
Brooks, Max
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After finding myself slighlty underwhelmed by the movie; the book proved a welcome change. World War Z manages to capture the spirit of the zombie apocalypse trope while still remaining original. The story is told through chronological, short, personal naratives and expertly paints a large picture of disaster while continuing to feel intimate. People in the story act realistically and despite revolving around a fantastical event, the book always seems like a series of believable recounts. The story replaces continuous characters with a narrative of humanity as a whole and the reader become invested in this larger concept. Overall, the book is an entertaining read and completely worth the time.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Awards:
Genres:
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

There is a reason the Great Gatsby is considered an important work of American literature. Both a highly accurate depiction of the 1920s, a deep reflection on American morals, and the reality of the American dream, and an entertaining novel in general. While some of the book struggles with some strange pacing and slightly scattered plot, it is a worth while read. This book both appears frequently in popular culture and overall is a subject that is important to know. The Great Gatsby may not be a novel for everyone, however, it is relatively short and worth reading.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Awards:
Genres:
Storm Front
Butcher, Jim
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Strom Front serves as a stellar introduction to the exciting world of Harry Dresden. The first book in a long series of great books, Storm Front showcases Butcher's writing prowess. The story is full of interesting characters, well developed story, gritty mysteries, and the overarching wit of the main character. Storm Front is at once entertaining, humorous, and occasionally touching. It is one of those books that somehow becomes glued to your hands and only relinquishes them upon arrival at the back cover.
Overall, the book will most definitely be an enjoyable read and make picking the next three to four books to read an easy choice (although I recommend not attempting more than a few in a row for the sake of variety).

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Genres:
Lord of Light
Zelazny, Roger
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Lord of Light, winner of the 1968 Hugo award for best novel, is a fascinating excursion into a expertly crafted science fiction world involving both Hindu mythology and the struggle to free humanity from the oppressive rule of false gods. This book is exciting as well as thought provoking and an overall interesting read. The characters are well flushed out, the setting is both believable and fantastical, and every instant of the book engaging. For those not familiar with Zelazny's writing style, the book may become confusing at certain points. However, the reader is never lost completely and can easily catch back up with the story. This book is a must read for those interested in the science fiction genre.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Good Omens
Gaiman, Neil
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Good Omens is humorous take on Armageddon and the final battle between Heaven and Hell. Complete with an angel and a demon, who get along better with each other than with their immortal counterparts, two witch-finders, Satanic Nuns of the Chattering Order of St. Beryl, aliens, and an eleven year old Antichrist, Good Omens takes a completely different take on the Apocalypse. All predicted by a witch that lived 300 years ago, Good Omens is full of sarcasm, humor, fun, and adventure along with a moral that tells us to look for the good in everyone, even demons. I highly recommend this book for any high schooler or adult looking for a little bit of humor in life.

Reviewer's Name: John B
Genres:
Lord of the Flies
Golding, William
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Lord of the Flies is a horrifying book. Not through horror elements, but through the themes that it presents and deals with throughout. The plot follows a group of boys attempting at self-governance, after they become stranded on an island. Their attempts at a government fail, however, as their society devolves into power struggles and an "every man for himself"attitude, which leads to the collapse of their makeshift society.

The book explores the theme of the intrinsic corruption of human nature, and what happens when a society falls prey to malice and greed. The novel forces us to take a look inward, and forces us to analyse out modern society from a new perspective. However, one downside is that the novel can be a bit dull and boring, and quite hard to follow.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:
Heart of Darkness
Conrad, Joseph
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Heart of Darkness was written at a time when the horrors of the genocide in the Congo were being discovered by everyone. Joseph Conrad's magnum opus is a novel steeped in allegory and metaphor that details such genocides, while also serving to provide discourse on the nature of humanity.
The book details a character named Marlow as he travels up the River Thames in the Congo into the physical and metaphorical heart of darkness, and his experiences on his journey. The novel manages to both entrance and horrify readers, as the horrors described by Marlow are not only seen by him, but by us as an extension. The book does a wonderful job on speaking on the topic of genocide, but also helps us to learn about ourselves, about the nature of humans, and our dark hearts. This is a book that is necessary to read if one wants to consider themselves educated. However, the only downside is that it can be very hard to understand, and can be very, very monotonous and boring.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
The First Conspiracy
Meltzer, Brad
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you think you knew everything about the American Revolution, then this novel will prove you wrong. Taking place in the most critical era in America's history, this novel details a very unknown story about George Washington. The story follows him and his group of Life Guards, soldiers tasked with protecting Washington's life, as a conspiracy rages around them.
And unbeknownst to Washington, his Life Guards are now tasked by the British with killing the future president. The novel poses a very thought-provoking "What if?" question that provides for a very intense and hard to put down historical non-fiction novel. The novel provides insight into not only this virtually unknown story, but also shows the reader how close the US was to losing the Revolution. This novel is one of the best historical non-fiction books I have read. I would highly recommend to history buffs, fans of non-fiction, or anyone looking for a good read.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:
The Exorcist
Blatty, William Peter
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One of the greatest horror novels of all time, The Exorcist was a genre-defining piece of literature. It's story has set the precedent for horror, and is the novel that essentially invented the modern possession in horror. It's story follows Chris MacNeil as she struggles to get help for her daughter, who has been possessed by a powerful demon. The book is intense; it moves at a breakneck pace, and is truly terrifying. What makes it scary is the premise: someone you love being invaded by an unknown being that you do not understand. This idea is consistent throughout the whole novel -- in the first half or so, her condition is thought to be scientific in nature, but is soon proven to be false. What do you do when you have a problem, but do not know how to fix it? This question is concurrent with the novel, and forces us to face humanities greatest fear: the unknown. I would highly recommend this novel to horror fans, or anyone who is looking for a truly terrifying read to keep them up at night.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:
Sisters
Steel, Danielle
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This story kept you wanting to know more. The author made you feel like you were there and a part of the family.

Reviewer's Name: Joan
Genres:

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