All Book Reviews

Private Down Under
Patterson, James
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I listened to Private Down Under as an audiobook. This was the first James Patterson book I've ever read/listened to. I can't wait to delve into even more; I was instantly hooked. I finished another in less than a week. I wasn't sure what to expect, but after the main characters, a male and female who work for a private investigating firm, I anticipated somewhat of a romance. I was pleasantly surprised that was not what it was. Craig Gisto is launching "Private", an investigating firm, when almost instantly three cases land in their lap.

I was so anxious to find out how the cases unfolded that I found myself sitting in my car waiting for the end of each chapter. More than that, I dug out the CD player from the garage so I could end my evenings listening. Each case had it's own twists and turns, each with their own level of suspense. They were not able to be "solved" by the reader until the author gifted you that information. There were a few gory details, but nothing most adult readers will squirm at. The tone was pretty serious, with moments where I may have emitted an audible gasp. I truly appreciated how they had a native Australian read this book, considering the locale. The reader did a great job adjusting his accent to the characters he was speaking for. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I am looking forward to discovering more of what Mr. Patterson has to offer.

Reviewer's Name: Kristina
Devouring Gray Cover
Herman, Christine Lynn
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

After the tragic, premature death of Violet’s older sister Rosie, Violet and her mother move back to her mother’s home town in the sleepy little town of Four Paths, NY. But Four Paths has more going on than originally meets the eye: it’s secretly the prison of a nefarious beast. Captured by the founders of the Four Paths, the beast lives in a shadow world on top of the regular world, called the Gray. As more and more people get pulled into the Gray and are violently, Violet and her new friends are called to use their newfound magical powers to stop the beast at any cost.

The book is being marketed as “Stranger Things” meets “The Raven Boys”, and I would say that is a pretty spot on comparison. The Gray is not unlike The Upside Down or Cabeswater. The difference, really, is that this book is lacking in a few areas where Stranger Things and The Raven Boys succeed: detailed characterization, nuanced worldbuilding, and extremely good writing. The characters in this one were one dimensional; Violet and Harper, two of our four main characters, were fairly interchangeable to me. The book fluctuates between following the children of the four main founders, and as a result, we only get to know a few of them really well. They are still interesting – they all have to deal with quite a bit of pressure from their parents and the town, but I wish they had each been developed more.

I really enjoyed the worldbuilding at first, but then a few details were introduced that clearly just served as plot devices. For example, if the children of the founders date each other, they will lose any magical abilities they may have inherited – there’s no need for this aside from generating romantic tension that could have been generated in a number of other ways. There were a few other plot points (like the rituals) that were never explained in a satisfying way. That said, I raced through the book. As I got closer to the end and realized there would be a sequel, I got a little less interested (this did not need to be a duology).


TLDR: While it’s not quite as good, folks who enjoyed Stranger Things or The Raven Boys will find a lot to like here too. Despite its many problems, it was a creative, compelling read, and I did end up enjoying it! 3 stars. I liked it. I’d read another book by this author.


Thanks to Titan Books and Netgalley for the advance electronic copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Devouring Gray will be available for purchase on 02 April, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Everless
Holland, Sara
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Everless is a very interesting read with a concept similar to that of the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. This book follows a girl in a kingdom where your life-blood is currency. She is thrown back into the royal goings of the royal family to be able to care for her father but learns much more about herself than she thought. Overall, I really enjoyed this book because it's an interesting concept and I enjoy the sort of fantastical kingdom type books. Some parts of this book were confusing in terms of what exactly the characters were feeling and their intentions but I thought this was a very good book. I would recommend this book for lovers of the Red Queen series and books of similar concepts.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Genres:
The Hazel Wood
Albert, Melissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Hazel Wood is an interesting mix of modern perspective and fairy tale magic. This book took a Grimm's fairy tale turn in it's dark and twisting paths. The main character has always been followed by bad luck and when she goes back to her dead grandmother's estate, she finds out why. I really enjoyed this book as a fan of fairy tales and darker ideas. I would recommend this book for fairy tale lovers and people who have a love for the darker side of the world.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Ace of Shades
Foody, Amanda
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ace of Shades a spectacular read. This book is set in a town ruled by gangs and gambling. The main character is trying to find her mother and get through the city without it ruining her, but she finds that she is made more of this city than she thought. I really enjoyed learning all about the city and the workings of the gangs within it. Ace of Shades has a special magic for drawing the reader in and keeping you wanting more. I would suggest this book for people who enjoy mystery, fantasy, and a little bit of Las Vegas.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Awards:
Genres:
War Storm
Aveyard, Victoria
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The final installment of the Red Queen series, War Storm was an interesting conclusion. This book is the conclusion of the war between Cal, Mavis, and Mare. For a conclusion, I thought the author took a bit of the easy route by not wrapping it all up and leaving an open ending. After reading the whole series I felt like this wasn't the best ending to the series but it was an interesting way for the author to tie it up. For readers of the series, definitely read this book because it's still very good, just not my favourite of all of the them.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Fangirl
Rowell, Rainbow
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book follows two twin girls heading off to college, and they differ in social skills, interests, and beliefs. They share common ground over their mutual love for a book series revolving around Simon Snow. He is similar to Harry Potter. Cather, though, is much more obsessed with the series and writes fanfiction in her free time. With no interest in attending college away from her dad, unlike her sister Wren, she hides out in her dorm and avoids people until her roomate and her friend Levi drag her out. She slowly overcomes her hatred of university and gets closer with Levi, but struggles between writing what is an original idea of hers and what she takes from the Simon Snow books. I really enjoyed this book because it is easy to relate to in today’s world. With ever-present media and popular shows and books bring in the spotlight, it is hard to be feel genuine in your ideas or opinions.
The book explores different ideas or love and originality and provides a view of family and of university that is atypical. It was very interesting to read about the social dynamics of an introverted university student, but the cute romance aspect of the book also adds to the entertainment. I would recommend it for a young adult read. I would give it three and a half stars out of five.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
American Gods
Gaiman, Neil
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book follows ex-convict Shadow, once he is released from prison and enters into a new job as the assistant to Mr. Wednesday (more commonly known as Odin). Shadow doesn’t believe the fact that he is surrounded by gods, until Mr. Wednesday introduces him to god and god and shows him undeniable evidence. Mr. Wednesday is using Shadow as a mean of amassing the older, more forgotten gods into an army ready to retaliate against the new gods of the modern era. Technology, for example, is depicted as a god, but a socially removed and young god. This has been one of my absolute favorite books to read because of how it explores the change in worshiping from ancient gods and folklore into technology, media, and trends. The book is so complicated because it brings together ancient gods of cultures from around the world.

Each have different origins and purposes, and the role Shadow plays as the representation of humanity only intensifies the surreal feeling of the book.
I liked how I was able to relate to Shadow, as bring subject to the controlling factors of society, whether they be demanding gods or media outlets. I appreciated how well-researched the cultures written about were, and how there isn't a page in the book that doesn’t bring about another point to think about, something like morality or control. The book is also very entertaining and a fascinating storyline, and I would highly recommend it to any reader. I would give it five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
Sing, Unburied, Sing
Ward, Jesmyn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is a mix of old folklore and spirituality, racism, social stereotypes, and empathy. It revolves around a family who face racism from the white grandfather of black children. The main characters are the mother, the son, and the baby daughter, who relies more on her brother than her own mom. Her mother spends more time doing drugs than raising her kids, so the grandparents have generally brought them up. Their father, a white drug dealer, is in prison, and the book follows the family’s road trip to go and pick him up. The novel switches between a modern setting, and the prison but from the 1940s, when the black grandfather was in jail. The story analyzes the reasons behind a broken family, and brings to light the continued racism in the southern USA. However, the spirituality plays a role because another character who joins the road trip is the mother’s dead brother, who appears as a ghost and brings up the idea of family. I enjoyed this book very much because of its complexity. The book can be a slow read, as all the scenery and characters are continually described in precise detail, but the author leaves no point unexplained. The meanings behind the plot are subtle, and the supernatural aspect is a good point of interest to tie together the past and the present. I loved the honesty behind the author’s writing, and I enjoyed the beautiful writing style. I would highly recommend this book, and would give it four out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
In Other Lands
Rees Brennan, Sarah
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This books follows Elliot Schafer as he leaves behind the modern England and travels instead into a magical land where he enrolls in a sort of a school.

Students, called cadets at the camp/school, can choose between war training and council training, meaning fighting or diplomacy. He befriends Luke Sunborn, the fan favorite of the camp and a promising soldier, through a truce that they made regarding the third member of their group, Serene, the only elf who joined the human army and who they both try to help by offering extra lessons. Elliot’s mission slowly becomes peace in the Borderlands, the name of the magical place he now lives in, because he doesn’t like their dependency on war as a means of existence. The book then follows the three friends as they navigate treaties and violence and meet many magical creatures. This is by far the best book I’ve read this year. There is a sense of empathy for all the characters, realistic romances, delicate friendships, and other harsh realities that rarely appear in young adult literature, not to mention the reverse gender stereotypes and raging pacifism that become center points of the plot. I loved the detail in the story and how everything in the story in interconnected. I could barely put it down, and would highly recommend it. I would give it five stars out of five.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
Five Feet Apart
Lippincott, Rachel
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This book follows two teens who have Cystic Fibrosis and are receiving treatment in the same hospital. The girl is fairly strict with her routines, but she slowly falls for the rebellious boy who ignores the doctors’ advice and avoids his medicine. While this book was interesting, especially in regards to the medical aspect, the plot as a whole wasn’t all that unique.

The idea of a forbidden romance, even due to medical conditions, was not terribly exciting. I would not recommend this book for anything other than a quick, cliché romance read. It isn’t too deep and the end is very predictable. I initially chose this book because I thought it would go more in depth into the lives of the main characters lives and explore CF, but the book is almost totally limited to the hospital. I would give it two and a half stars out of five.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
American Sniper
Kyle, Chris
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

American Sniper is the biography of the most lethal sniper in the United States military, who was apart of the United States Navy SEALs. The biography encompasses the story of Chris Kyle, to which it describes the story of both his military tours and his own personal/civilian life. This autobiography adheres towards the intriguing events that Kyle experienced within his life.

American Sniper was a very well written book that did a great job describing the embellishments and challenges that Kyle faced, when he was a SEAL or just a civilian. Personally, the book is one of the best that surpasses many other titles that I have read. I highly recommend it to other readers.

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
The Giver
Lowry, Lois
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Giver is a dystopian novel that illustrates the story of a young boy named Jonas. Jonas lives in a futuristic society that has eliminated the concepts fear, pain, and diversity. He is the only different person within his society, to which he has unique capabilities and characteristics than that of other individuals. He is put through many challenges and barriers that he must overcome. This leads to his absolute desire to explore the outskirts and find the ultimate truth of his fate.

The Giver is a dystopian novel, where it brought a unique setting and plot-line for the reader. It was interesting and did not follow a dull story-line that was expected. The whole story concludes to be a 4 star rating, as many parts of the story were surprising and unexpected which maintained the attraction and interest into the story. However, the story lacks a consistency with its line of events, which leads to certain parts being extremely intriguing, and other parts of the story being slow and boring. This loses the reader at some point.

Personally, the book was well written and was very captivating for me. It was surprising with its plot-line of action, and I enjoyed most about the futuristic society and the uniqueness of it. I highly recommend this book.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
The Fall of Five
Lore, Pittacus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Pittacus Lore has written another masterpiece with The Fall of Five. In The Fall of Five, new characters are introduced and old friends return to fight. The Garde finally find their last member and work to train as a team.

However, the Mogadorians are working just as hard and become more desperate to kill all of the Loric. In this novel, the fun and dramatic adventure started in I am Number Four continue and the characters are further developed. However, The Fall of Five is full of additional thrills and a plot twist that will shock you.

Reviewer's Name: John B
The Sorcerer of the North
Flanagan, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I liked this book because it was very suspenseful. This book was unpredictable and I found that part particularly enjoyable. I picked this book because it is from a very good series. I can relate to Will because he is not easily spooked. However, when he is spooked, it is really, really bad.
This is one of the best books I have read this year.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Alexander M
The Siege of Macindaw
Flanagan, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In the sixth book of the Ranger’s Apprentice, Will, the protagonist, is a full fledged ranger. He is tasked with infiltrating Macindaw and finding who is leading a coup on the lord there. The book is kinda slow to build up the story and events. However, it is worth continuing to read because it gets really good. I liked this book because it leaves you on your toes once you get into it. This book is hard to predict but it is possible to guess what is going to happen. One of the best books I have read this year.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Alexander M
The Battle for Skandia
Flanagan, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In the fourth novel of the series The Ranger's Apprentice, The Battle for Skandia, Will, the protagonist, finds himself stuck in Skandia. Will must help the Skandians repel an invasion. I liked this book because it leaves you wondering, who is going to win. This was a book that was very unpredictable, which I find very enjoyable. I picked this book because it is the fourth book in a really good series. I can relate to Will because he finds himself being required to help those who do not want help. This is by far the best book I have read all year so far. I would recommend this series to anyone who prefers speed and intelligence over raw strength.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Alexander M
The Icebound Land
Flanagan, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In the third novel of Ranger’s Apprentice, The Icebound Land, Will, the protagonist, finds himself a captive of the Skandians. The Skandians are a group of people who raid coastal cities. He is bound to become a slave of the Skandians. The reason I liked this book is because it was very unpredictable. I can relate to the character Will because he is intelligent and thinks outside the box. The best part of this book is the beginning because it makes the reader excited to read the rest of the book to find out what is going to happen. I picked this book because the first and second books were very good.

Reviewer's Name: Alexander M
The Burning Bridge
Flanagan, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In the sequel to the Ruins of Gorlon, the Burning Bridge, Will, the protagonist, discovers a secret bridge from the mountains to his homeland. He decides to burn the bridge to prevent those on the other side from getting to his homeland. If the people on the other side got to his homeland there would be war. I liked this book because it was very intense and stayed interesting for the entire book. Also, I could relate to the character Will because he is witty. Sometimes this book is very misleading and unexpected. However, it was still a very good book. If fact, this was one of the best books I have read this year. The reason I picked this book is because I really liked the first
book of the series.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Alexander M
One Of Us Is Lying
McManus, Karen M.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Five students walk into detention one day, but only four make it out alive.

One of Us is Lying follows the gripping story of Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper as suspects in the murder of Simon Kelleher. Each of the high school students have secrets that they would do anything to protect, so how far would they go to make sure they’re kept out of the spotlight?

I liked this book because it delved into the personalities and thoughts of each individual suspect to keep the reader guessing who did it until the very end. Overall, One of Us is Lying is a surprising and engaging book that was hard to put down. I especially liked how each perspective of the characters was described in depth so that the audience was not left out of the storytelling. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves murder mysteries and young adult fiction.

One of Us is Lying is a teenage-take on themes as dark as murder and depression, and although other writers are unsuccessful in developing such deep plots for a younger audience, Karen M. McManus writes with an enjoyable voice that establishes her story very effectively that, additionally, is targeted well toward a young adult audience. So, if you’re wanting to sit down and unravel a complex and grounded mystery, you should check out One of Us is Lying.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Anya G