All Book Reviews

Kingdom of Copper
Chakraborty, S. A.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Kingdom of Copper is the sequel to City of Brass, and there are spoilers for that book ahead.

Kingdom of Copper picks up about five years after the events of City of Brass. Nahri is married to Muntadhir and is navigating court politics and learning to use her skills as magical healer. Ali, after getting exiled from Daevabad following the events of City of Brass, has managed to survive several assassination attempts and has made a life for himself in a small village. Forced to return to Daevabad, Ali quickly returns to his post as resident trouble maker/possible emir (which in this case means heir to the throne), and Nahri finds her world rocked once again.

The complex, Middle Eastern inspired world and world-building that were the best part of City of Brass are still present in this book, while they are less of a focal point. Overall, I much preferred Kingdom of Copper to City of Brass. My short review of City of Brass read as something like: "great worldbuilding, annoying characters, promising ending." But because we had that time jump of five years, our characters have separated, matured (at least a bit), and the love triangle that brought down the first book died a satisfying death. The worst part of the first book to me was the romantic angst, and little of that exists in this sequel to the betterment of the book.

TLDR: If you liked the first book, you’ll love this one. If you were on the fence about City of Brass as I was, know that the sequel is much improved.

Kingdom of Copper would appeal young, new and other adults and fantasy readers who like rich world building and a unique setting. 3.5 stars.

Thanks to HarperVoyager for the advance edition, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Kingdom of Copper is available now!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Four Dead Queens
Scholte, Astrid
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This book was not for me, but I think a lot of young adults will really love it. The following is essentially a laundry list of my issues. First, the worldbuilding was pretty weak. The fours quadrants are fairly reminiscent of those in Divergent, but they rarely interact and the farming sector basically works on Amish rules while the technological sector has holographs and advanced biosuits and all sorts of stuff. It does not make a ton of sense. And neither does the “queenly law” or really anything to do with the rules the palace or kingdom operates under – it all seemed pretty transparently created to serve the story that was written. Moving along. The characters really left something to be desired. Most were one-dimensional. The main character, Keralie, couldn’t make a good decision if her life depended on it and falls squarely into the snarky and ostensibly clever thief trope. We do get to hear from the queens a bit, but as I knew they’d end up dead and we only spent a little time with each of them, I didn’t find that it added to the story. And, of course, there is instalove between Keralie and our extremely boring male lead, Varin.

Some components of the book are pretty enjoyable. I think the premise is really cool (if executed poorly). The first queen’s murder took me a bit by surprise, and was deliciously gruesome. There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming. I quite liked the last 50 pages or so – the author, a debut, clearly has some really great ideas. Unfortunately, they didn’t come together in this book, though I’d try another book by this author pending favorable reviews.

TLDR: Readers who loved The Red Queen and Divergent will probably enjoy this one as well. I couldn’t get past the weak characters and worldbuilding, but I think a lot of readers will likely devour this one nonetheless. For me, it was just ok. 2 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley and G. Putnam’s Sons for the advance copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Four Dead Queens will be released on 26 February.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Nine Perfect Strangers
Moriarty, Liane
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I usually like this author. I mean, she's not Harper Lee and it's not To Kill a Mockingbird lit, but generally entertaining. This book was an exception. Poor plot, unlikable characters, an unbelievable storyline (and not in a cool Harry Potter way), and a weak ending. Without giving away too much, it's about nine strangers (title spoiler alert) who go to a swanky health spa in rural Australia. That sounds kinda sweet, right? Well, the spa is run by a Russian psychopath who gives them illegal hallucinogenics and that's where the story jumps the shark. Skip this one and read one of her other novels instead.

Reviewer's Name: Laura
Genres:
The Golden Compass
Pullman, Philip
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Golden Compass is about a little girl named Lyra, and her animal companion that can change form. They want to find her friend that has been kidnapped by really bad people. On her way she meets witches, gets captured, rides an armored ice bear, starts a war, and discovers who past family members were. And it all starts with a particle they call, “Dust”!

Reviewer's Name: Chess
Genres:
Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-1945, and the American Cover-up
Harris, Sheldon
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book is for the historian who wants to know more about what happened in the world in the 1930-1940's. We all know about WWII. Most of know about the Nazi Concentration camps. A few know of the human experiments done by the Nazi's. But did you know that Japan was doing human experimentation as well? Did anyone know that Imperial Japan was active in Bacteriological and Chemical Warfare? This is an in depth look at the people behind the atrocities and those behind the cover-up. The author even talks a little about why we know little about Japanese human experimentation and a lot about Nazi Concentration camps.

I found this book enlightening and thorough. My overall view of the world during this time period is filling out and becoming more complete.

Reviewer's Name: Rachel
Genres:
The House with a Clock in Its Walls
Bellairs, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Do you like mystery stories with a bit of payback! well then this is the book for you. and the best part is this book has ghosts and magic! so please read about this epic quest to find the one clock that was once lost long ago. Magic!

Reviewer's Name: Chess
The House with a Clock in its Walls
Bellairs, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

There is evil afoot in this book about a fat young boy whose parents both died in a car accident leaving him to live with his strange uncle who lives in a mansion with secrets. An uncle being driven insane by a clock's incessant ticking countered by a strange neighbor who makes excellent chocolate chip cookies. The adventure is just beginning. Into a cemetery, are the dead rising? A car chase all across the county and an eclipse of the moon. A house that grows defenses? Windows that change on their own? Read this book and find out not just what the evil is, but to determine which is better, the book or the movie?

Reviewer's Name: Rachel
Five Trucks
Floca, Brian
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Using simple language, this book shows the jobs that five drivers and their trucks do. It also introduces counting backwards and ordinal numbers. Learn about the different jobs that people have to get an airplane ready for take off. Watch the boy and his suitcase prepare for their trip. A fun book for those who are interesting in airplane travel.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Awards:
Hungry Bunny
Rueda, Claudia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Play along as you read this book. Bunny is hungry. He’s so hungry that you can hear his tummy growl. He’s hoping for a treat and you can help. Help him along on his adventure as see if he’s able to have a treat to fix his hunger problem.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Dirt+Water=Mud
Hannigan, Katherine
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

What happens when you combine two things like dirt and water? What about
girl + dog? Join this girl and her dog as they have a great time using their
imaginations. What will happen next?

Reviewer's Name: Carol
All the Water in the World
Lyon, George Ella and Tillotson, Katherine
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Using simple text and colorful illustrations, All the Water in the World explains the water cycle and encourages us to live green.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Look
Woodcock, Fiona
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Ooh! While this book is about the trip a brother and sister make to the zoo, it’s also about words with the letter pair OO. It’s cool. It encourages you to look at balloons, kangaroos, and more, just look!

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Blue Diary
Hoffman, Alice
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This novel starts off describing a small town in which everything and everyone in it seem to be perfect. As the story solidifies in mid book a great scandal/tragedy is revealed. and the writing style becomes more consistent and serious. The book is really a study in how people deal with someone admired who turns out to have a sinister background.

In the beginning there is a lot of hyperbole reminiscent of a romance novel but the story soon takes on a darker tone. Also the author likes to interject poetic similes and asides that sometimes seem awkward but occasionally hit the mark.

Reviewer's Name: Vince
Awards:
Genres:
Book Review: Chihuawolf
Ganny, Charlee
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This is a cute book about a chihuahua that wants to become a werewolf to impress the dog he loves. Paco is brave but diminutive, with the heart of a lion. His small stature keeps him from being a proper suitor for his love, an Afghan hound. Determined to win her love, he goes on an adventure, looking for a werewolf. But when his love gets dognapped, Paco and his friends spring into action to save her. Along the way, Paco learns that it's not size that matters, but what is in his heart.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
The Favorite Daughter
Say, Allen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is amazing and empowering! It is a great children's book about how to have pride in your culture. Good book for girls and boys! A must read!

Reviewer's Name: Aisha
Merci Suárez Changes Gears
Medina, Meg
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Merci Suárez Changes Gears just won the esteemed Newbery Award last month. Merci is a new sixth grader attending a private school. Her Cuban family lives in three small houses that sit in a row. Grandparents, aunt, twin nephews, mom, dad and brother are part of Merci's daily life for better or for worse. Merci's schoolmates, however, are mostly mean to her, maybe because Merci does not come from the same affluent neighborhoods with pools and parks galore. Merci Suárez Changes Gears is a gentle story of how Merci's sweet family and school intersect, all while Merci is growing and changing. In fact, Merci's household is changing quickly and somehow Merci has to learn to change gears to keep up.

Reviewer's Name: Betty
The Girl Who Played with Fire
Stieg, Larsson
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Despite some of its weaknesses, some of which were due to my reading it via audiobook, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a great book. In its sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, some of these weaknesses were addressed, but others manifested in their place. Again, these faults might be attributed to the audiobook format, but are fairly minor when considering how fantastic the story is as a whole. In fact, I probably like The Girl Who Played with Fire more than its predecessor. Of course, part of this was how events in the first book carried over to influence the plot of the second.

In the first book of the Millennium series, I didn’t realize just how much sex was in it. This was mostly because of the rape scene that made everything else seem tame in comparison. In this book, the sex is still there, but there’s so much of it at the beginning that it starts to become distracting. At least when book one included it, it was generally through the guise of a budding friendship. This time, it felt more like the author was trying to hammer home the point that the two main characters were sexually liberated. Other than that, it was also a little challenging to keep track of the timeline, since it jumped around a bit when it followed different characters. This is perhaps a limitation of the audiobook format.

Overall, though, the plot of The Girl Who Played with Fire is superb. Uncovering the past of our favorite, titular character was a great way to continue a series that started with such an engaging and enigmatic figure. With less mystery present in this volume, the twists are still believable and entertaining while also focusing more on the action that centers on Lisbeth Salander’s desire to remain as disconnected as possible.

A fantastic follow-up to a great book, I give The Girl Who Played with Fire 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Unwanteds
McMann, Lisa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In the town of Quil, there is an odd tradition. On kids’ thirteenth birthdays, they participate in the purge, where the government judges kids by their creativity and separates them into three groups. The Wanteds get to stay in Quil to train to be warriors. The Necessaries also stay, but only to do farm work. The last group is the Unwanteds--the group of kids who have shown too much creativity. They are sentenced to death.

When Alex Stowe's thirteenth birthday comes up, he isn't excited. He already knows that he will be an Unwanted because of all his infractions. When the purge comes and he is sentenced to death, he thinks it is his death date. But, when he gets to the lake of boiling oil, the place where the Unwanteds are sent to be killed, a strange man comes and offers them a second chance.

Instead of punishing the Unwanteds, he wants to bring them into the magical world of Artime, harness their creativity, and use it to give them magic. But if Artime is discovered by Quil, it might ruin Artime forever. Can Alex help save Artime or will it be discovered and destroyed?

I originally got this book from finishing the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Challenge. I don't usually read or enjoy fantasy books, but I loved this one. I really enjoyed the concept of the story and loved all of the creative characters. It was also cool how they not only got to learn magic but also got to create new spells. This is the first book in a series of seven. I can't wait to read the rest of them.

Reviewer's Name: Ben C
Awards:
Looking for Alaska
Green, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Looking for Alaska follows the ordinary story of a boy by the name of Miles "Pudge" Halters. In his chaotic first year at Culver Creek Boarding School, he meets many people who guide him in his search for himself, including Chip Martin and Alaska Young. Love, friendship, and innocence are tested in this rapid novel as John Green marvelously weaves unpredictability and relatability in between the lines of this gripping book. I liked this book because of its intricate simplicity; the telling of the story made it feel like it was specific to Pudge, but within the awkward relationships and persistent daydreams I saw a bit of myself reflected back at me. I picked this book up in an effort to empty my bookshelf, and as it cleared my shelf it filled my heart with raw emotions that I was not expecting. My favorite part was the contrast of the before and after of the pivotal point in the story. The only thing I didn't particularly enjoy was the undeveloped relationships between characters that were evident in some chapters. Overall, Looking for Alaska was worth my time and told a unique story that twisted the basic "new kid" story into an unpredictable plot.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Anya G
Elijah of Buxton
Curtis, Christopher
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book "Elijah of Buxton" is incredible. While it's meant for younger readers, the book had several thought-provoking moments, which can captivate older readers. The protagonist, Elijah, is well-developed and his journey is full of fulfilling comedy, adventure, and surprises. The book is written in a light-hearted manner, which keeps it from being too depressing. There are some gruesome moments, but they all contribute to the story. It also relates to slavery from a unique perspective, although it does a great job addressing other values. The only thing I found wrong with the book was that it did have a somewhat weak plot. Other than that, I would recommend this book to almost anyone, as its messages can relate to anyone.

Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Genres:

Pages