All Book Reviews

Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury, Ray
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

With this dystopian society reversing positions in society, firefighters burn books and light houses on fire. Montag, a veteran firefighter, soon meets a girl who changes his mind about life, books, and his job. Soon, this mystery girl disappears and Montag soon sets out on a risky adventure to solve the mystery of his lost friend. With him betraying society, reading intriguing literature, and meeting new friends, the society is out to find Montag. Will he escape into the unknown world or will he be caught with his fate unknown? This book is an adventure worth reading!

Reviewer Grade: 9th

Reviewer's Name: Aiden F
Ruby Holler
Creech, Sharon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you like fast-paced adventures and witty characters... this book is for you. With Dallas, the brother, and his sister, Florida, they have been known as the "trouble twins." Raised as orphans and never suitable for any home, they have just been sent to live with an old couple. Having doubts and questions, Florida and Dallas are scared and nervous about their new home.
Their past homes have put them in dark basements, creepy holes, and not so comfortable beds. Will Florida and Dallas soon come around or will they have to head back to their dreaded orphanage? This fast paced adventure will leave you wanting more and suitable for all ages.
Reviewer Grade: 9th

Reviewer's Name: Aiden F
Genres:
Red Queen
Aveyard, Victoria
2 stars = Meh
Review:

"Red Queen" is the first book in a series by Victoria Aveyard. I chose it at a friends suggestion.

The setting is a dystopian world where the color of your blood determines a lot about you. Reds are the common-folk, with nothing extraordinary about them. To make matters even worse, if a red doesn't have a job by 18, they are drafted into the ongoing war.
Silvers, however, live in the lap of luxury. They are cruel, biased, and power hungry. Plus, they have advantages over the reds. Silvers have extraordinary abilities like mind reading, controlling fire, and more. They use these powers to keep the reds in check.
Mare is a red, 17, and about to be drafted for pick-pocketing instead of getting a job. In a strange turn of events, she is saved from that cruel fate by a mysterious boy, and hired to be a servant to the royal family. Her first day on the job, however, things go array. Turns out, not all reds are powerless, and Mare is only the beginning.

To be honest, I didn't enjoy this book as much as most. The concept is fantastic, but the execution... not so much. Victoria Aveyard spends a lot of time in her subplots- a love square (not a love triangle, a love square). It might have been alright, except this is the ONLY subplot she uses. Romance is overused in this book, in my opinion. Then again, I'm not one for romance. So I would still suggest you try it, if only to step out of your reading comfort zone.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Adia R.
Immoral Code
Clark, Lillian
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Immoral Code" tells the tale of five seniors in high school planning something even bigger than Homecoming. When Bellamy's billionaire father refuses to pay her college tuition at MIT, the gang gathers together to right the wrong, her friend Nari in particular. Under the code name d0l0s, Nari and the rest of Bellamy's friends search for the much needed money- and revenge.

The story's plot circles around a small hiccup in their plan: to get the money, they'll have to sneak into the Foster Inc. building! This story is full of suspense, humor, and 3-dimensional characters each struggling through their own adolescence problems simultaneously. Lillian Clark does a fantastic job of weaving multiple view-points together to tell this memorable tale. I would recommend t it to anyone my age!

*Note: This story does contain a good amount of profanity. Definitely for older readers.* Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Adia R.
The Girl From Everywhere
Heilig, Heidi
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In "The Girl From Everywhere," sixteen-year-old Nix and her father lead a crew of time travelers abroad their ship, the Temptation, in a quest to find a way to save Nix's late mother. I really enjoyed this book -- I was hooked from page one. I think what really pulls you in is the complexity of the time travel -- in this story, they use maps of places during specific time periods to reach where they want to go. It's such an interesting concept that I hadn't seen before this story. I also really liked the crew -- they were all very diverse with interesting backgrounds and personalities. If I had one complaint, it's that Nix's love interest, Kashmir, is sort of your typical YA love interest -- suave, charming, sometimes abrasive, a little arrogant. Maybe it's just because this is a really common archetype in YA, but I found his character a little irritating. Nevertheless, this is an incredible story that is definitely worth checking it.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Mortal Engines
Reeve, Philip
2 stars = Meh
Review:

In "Mortal Engines", the first book in the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve, Earth is now a dystopian world where cities have become huge, mobile machines that compete for resources. London is the biggest of them all, capturing and destroying smaller cities for personal gain. A young archivist in training (and Londoner) Tom Natsworthy looks up to the leaders of London, particularly a man known as Valentine. But when a mysterious girl sneaks into the city and tries to kill Valentine, things go horribly wrong -- and both Tom and the girl are banished -- and they must find their way back.

This story had great ideas, but slightly poor execution. The overall plot started off really interesting, but as time went on, I felt like so much of it became filler content -- events seemed to just randomly happen for the sake of filling the time until we got to something important. There were also a lot of POVs to keep track of -- and it felt like there were just way too many cooks in the kitchen. In addition, the characters were really hard to root for. Tom complained often (almost to the point of whining). Hester had good moments, but was often too closed off to show a lot of emotion, which hindered character development. These characters could've been more interesting, but their flaws really kept them from developing.

What kept me reading was the world-building. The world in this book is expansive and complex, unlike any I have read about in a long time. It is utterly unique and intriguing, which made me keep reading, despite what I didn't like.

Although there is a movie adaptation of this book, I would recommend reading the book first. Because the book has more time to explain things, it allows for a better understanding of some of the confusing components of the story (in my opinion).

Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Batman: Nightwalker
Lu, Marie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In "Batman: Nightwalker", the early years of Bruce Wayne is retold in the style of a YA novel. Years after the death of his parents, Bruce struggles with loss, a sense of purpose, and the empire he has just inherited. When a string of mysterious crimes pop up in Gotham City, he soon gets tangled in the web.

First off, when I started this book, I didn't actually know much about the Batman universe, but it was easy to catch up -- especially considering it takes places years before Bruce's story actually begins as Batman. However, I have read Marie Lu's work before, so I had a general idea of what I was getting into. There are quite a few things I liked about this book: the plot was intricate and engaging, the protagonist was likable and interesting, and the twists and turns were really well executed. But, what kept me from giving this book five stars was the writing style. Normally, I really enjoy Marie Lu's writing style, but this book was different than her other work. The dialogue often felt really unnatural (especially when it came to Bruce and his friends). There were lots of lines that I thought were cheesy or robotic and that pulled me out of the story. Had the writing flowed a little more and the dialogue been more natural, I would've definitely given this book five stars. But, I would still recommend it because, despite the flaws, I really enjoyed it for its elaborate, high-paced plot.

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

The book, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis, is a wonderful read. The classic can be read by any ages and provides a fulfilling story in a fantastical world. The straightforward plot and character development also add nicely to the book's universe. The book also provides illustrations adding to the imagery of Narnia, the world in which the book is in. Overall, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is a phenomenal book that can give any reader a great experience.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
The Revenge of Seven
Lore, Pittacus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Pittacus Lore has hit another home run with The Revenge of Seven. As more secrets of the Garde’s past are revealed, the fight with the Mogadorians continues. Invasion is fast approaching and the Loric are desperate to survive. The Revenge of Seven is another action packed page turner that you won’t be able to put down. Full of plot twists, adventure, and humor, I highly recommend this book for all middle and high school readers.

Reviewer's Name: John B
We Hunt the Flame Review
Faizal, Hafsah
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Zafira has gained respect amongst her community for being the only person brave enough to dare the forest of a the Arz – a rapidly growing magical forest from which most who enter don’t return. She’s known as the Hunter. However, all respect Zafira has gained would be lost if folks were to find out that she was a girl. Nasir has a name of his own: Prince of Death. He assassinates all who cross his autocratic, despotic father, no matter how he feels on the subject. As the Arz grows and resources get more scare, both Zafira and Nasir find themselves on a journey to find a magical relic long buried on a dangerous island long presumed lost.

Another nearly impossible to write description! The worldbuilding in this thing is complex, and its really hard to give a short summary of the plot outside of “awesome” girl and scary-but-hot boy go on a quest for a magical object. While I do love complex worldbuilding, it bogged down the story for the first 40% of the book, and I kept getting confused by which peoples had what characteristics if they weren’t the peoples of our main two protagonists. Speaking of our two main protagonists, they were the least interesting characters in the story. Zafira is your standard strong-but-still-insecure-attracted-to-the-bad-boy YA fantasy protagonist, and Nasir kills people for no reason. The author tries to describe it away (his girlfriend will be brutally tortured), but this guy kills hundreds of people to (maybe) spare the lives of a few. Utilitarian he is not.

Anyway, after a lot of labored worldbuilding, we finally get to the island and team up with some other folks on the same quest. After this, the book is a lot of fun for about 30%. The characters have great chemistry, and the new ones are all dynamic and interesting people (beings) who we learn about slowly through the switching perspectives of our main characters. There’s a heist vibe and some great chemistry between friends and enemies alike . If that section had been the whole book, you would be reading a very different review. However, unfortunately, the book then focuses on a romance between our two leads, and I never found it to be convincing or compelling.

TLDR: This book was so close to being a really fun read, but a forced romance between two largely un-compelling leads overcame my love of the supporting characters, their chemistry, and some really fun worldbuilding elements.

I think folks who liked The Gilded Wolves or the Throne of Glass series will find things to like here. For this reader, it was mostly a miss. 2 stars – it was ok.

Thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Netgalley for the eARC which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. We Hunt the Flame will be available for purchase on 14 May, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Gone
Grant, Michael
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Gone is the first book of the Gone series. The basis of the story is that everyone 16 and over suddenly disappears and the kids remaining are sealed into a small town. These kids overtime start to develop superpowers and the story goes from there. I really enjoyed this book series because it made me think about what I would do in this situation. I originally found this book because of the name and it just stood out from the others. I would recommend this book for 12 and up.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Rob A.
I Am Number Four
Lore, Pittacus
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I am Number 4 is the first book in the lorien legacy series. The story takes place in Paradise Ohio following number 4 as he is on the run from a alien race. He is one of the survivors of the destruction of his home planet. I first found this book because my english teacher had recommended it to me. This book is only the first of many and all of the other books in this series were great. I would recommend this book for ages 12 and up.

Reviewer grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Rob A.
Six of Crows
Bardugo, Leigh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Six of Crows takes place in ketterdam where the main character Kaz lives. Kaz is the leader of a gang. The story follows him while he breaks into a impenetrable prison complex to break out a scientist. He gathers a group of people with special skills to help him with his heist. I would recommend this book. I found that this book was very hard to put down and I found that it was very interesting. I would recommend this book for ages 12 and up.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Rob A.
Genres:
The Tombs
Schaumberg, Deborah
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Tombs is a story told from the perspective of Avery Kohl a girl in New York 1882. I found this book was a very enjoyable read. It had a very interesting air of mystery. I also loved the feeling of being unsure about what she would do next. I first noticed this book by its cover and then I read the summary on the back and found it to be very interesting. I would definitely recommend this book to others looking for a interesting read. I would recommend this book for ages 13-15.

Reviewer Grade:9

Reviewer's Name: Rob A.
Stuff Matters
Miodownik, Mark
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Stuff Matters is a nonfiction book on material science. The author explains everything about 6 different materials that make up our world. He goes through the history, how its made, and what is made from it. The author explains in a way that makes it a very interesting read. I found this book because I thought that the cover looked very interesting, and I it was also recommended to me by my friend. This is a great book to read if you are interested in the world around you. I would recommend it for ages 12-14.

Reviewers Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Rob A.
Awards:
Brain Lab for Kids
Chudler, Eric H.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Are you interested in neuroscience? Try these 52 experiments and activities to explore neuroscience. You might explore your reflexes, vision, hearing, or sleep and body rhythms. You might learn about memory. Have some fun and learn about yourself as you read this book.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
The Most Magnificent Thing
Spires, Ashley
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

A girl comes up with a magnificent thing and hires a canine assistant to help create it. No problem! They gather supplies and get to work. Things do NOT go as plans. They try and try again, but are unable to make the magnificent thing. Then the girl gets mad and then she hurts herself! Things are not going well and she want to quit! Her assistant suggest a walk and then off they go. As they reach the end, the girl realizes how to make her magnificent thing and she gets to work. With persistence and creativity, they truly are able to make the most magnificent thing.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
That Is Not a Good Idea!
Willems, Mo
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A very plump goose is met by a hungry fox who invites her to dinner. Will dinner go as planned? This humorous book by Mo Willems reminds us to listen to our inner gosling and expect the unexpected. The book involves simple text and a minimum of words allowing readers to explore the pictures to understand the story.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Awards:
Math Curse
Scieszka, Jon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Some days you might feel that you are under a math curse where everything has become a math problem. This is the story of a girl whose life is just like that. Everything – even things that shouldn’t be math – now involve math! Work along with her to solve the problems and therefore, solve the math curse. Read and see if she succeeds.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
The 39 Steps
Buchan, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

It’s weird to think that stories like The 39 Steps have only been around for 100 years. Perhaps their ubiquity in modern action thrillers has made me numb to their “man on the run” plotline, but I didn’t find this book to be as interesting as I had expected. Sure, it’s short, but how many of its twists and turns were merely repeating the same way of escaping the main character’s pursuers time and again? And perhaps that’s the main issue I have with this book: the main character seemed to be too skilled at eluding capture for it to be believable.

I know the “wrong man” trope that thrusts an ordinary person into these kinds of circumstances isn’t as realistic as it could be, but when Richard Hannay just happens to know exactly what to do at each instance, I wonder how “ordinary” he really is. Don’t get me wrong, the chase is exciting, it’s just oddly convenient for the protagonist. Of course, maybe I was already ruined by having seen Alfred Hitchcock’s version of this story in The 39 Steps (1935), which added in elements of romance and changed some key plot points.

In the end, The 39 Steps still stands as one of the originators of its genre. Even if the style has morphed and evolved over time, it’s essential to recognize where it came from and what its early influences were. If you’re interested in the history associated with the genre, then this book for you. Heck, if you have a few hours to kill in an airport or waiting room, this book might be the ticket. Just don’t expect much out of it other than some slightly-entertaining distraction.

A basic, if perhaps unbelievable story, in the early action-thriller genre, I give The 39 Steps 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.

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