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All Book Reviews

The Shadow Rising
Jordan, Robert
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One would begin to think that, this being the fourth very long book in a series that is known for it's long books, that the books would start to drop off a bit. But no, they seem to just get better! The Shadow Rising is the fourth book in the Wheel of Time series, and it's bigger, longer, and more actionier than ever. The book has two main side-plots within it. The first revolves around Perrin going back to the Two Rivers to help his people fend off the Trollocs and Whitecloaks that are becoming more dangerous, and the second revolves around Rand going into the Waste to unite the Aiel, fulfilling another piece of the prophecy. There are also side-plots with Elayne, Nynaeve, and Egwene and the Black Sisters, and those are equally as good. There is more characters development here that there has been in a book yet, especially around Mat, Elayne, Nynaeve and Egwene, and the book is very good for it. The battle sequences are just as good as before, and the magic is top-notch. The book is quite long, though, and it can get quite boring sometimes, so do be warned. All in all though, this is a very, very good addition to the Wheel of Time series. Recommend to: fans of fantasy, WoT lovers.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
The Dragon Reborn
Jordan, Robert
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Wheel of Time is an incredible series with incredible novels within them. The Dragon Reborn, the third book, continues this trend of epicness, and while it sin't as good as the Great Hunt, it is certainly an extremely good book and a great addition to the series. The plot revolves around Rand al'Thor, one of the main protagonists, going to the Stone of Tear to claim Callandor, or the Sword that Cannot be Touched in order to fulfill the next part of the Prophecy of the Dragon that will lead to him ultimately destroying the Dark One. The book has it all: plenty of action, magic, romance, and fantasy to keep you entertained throughout. One thing that I really liked about this book was the further development of Mat Cauthon as a character, and I really began to like him a lot more in this book, and he is a very likable and well rounded character. The third main character, Perrin Aybara, does begin to drop off a bit, but I still find him an enjoyable character. One main issue with this book is the fact that this book didn't really need it's own book; if this book and The Great Hunt were combined into one book, I think that it may have been better like that. Still, I can't really complain since this series is just so good! Recommended for: fantasy lovers, people who like really long, epic series.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
The Great Hunt
Jordan, Robert
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Eye of the World can be considered a masterpiece in it's own right, and was an incredible introduction into this sprawling universe of the Wheel of Time series. The second book, however, the Great Hunt, improves upon the first book in almost every aspect. Gone are the chapters that go nowhere and the filler sections. The action also really begins to ramp up in this second installment, something that was sorely lacking throughout the first book up until the very end. The plot in this book revolves around the search for the Great Hunt of the Horn, something that was mentioned very frequently in the first book (one side note that I would like to add is the amount of foreshadowing in this series--things from book one are mentioned all the way in book 14! It is just incredible). The Horn is aid to be able to bring dead heroes and soldiers back to life. The good guys want it for their own use, and the bad guys want it too. There are also some side-plots that don't pertain to the Hunt itself, but I can't complain about that since they are so engrossing in their own right. Again, I would recommend this series to fantasy lovers of people who like long, epic book series.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
The Eye of the World
Jordan, Robert
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One of the most celebrated fantasy book series of all time, The Wheel of Time series has been critically acclaimed, and the first book, The Eye of the World, is no exception to the praise. The book itself is about the journey of a small group of villagers that must try to destroy Ba'alzamon, the Dark One, who threatens to rule time itself. Firstly, Jordan's world building is impeccable. His attention to detail is accurate, his characters are unique, the world he creates feels alive, and the magic system he creates is one of the best ever put to paper. While the book is very similar to the Lord of the Rings in it's overall themes, the book brings a multitude of creative ideas to the table and carves out it's own very special and individualistic space in the fantasy genre. I would highly recommend this book, and series, to anyone who is a fan of high fantasy, or for anyone who is simply looking for a great series to keep themselves occupied with.

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

This is an exciting murder mystery book. I enjoyed all the difrent perspectives of the four main characters. All four of the main characters were flawed in some way, but still likable. The reader will enjoy the mystory until the very end when it is reveald. The author throws you in many directions and when you think you know who did it, new evidence will come up.
I took off one star simply because I thought the ending was a little predictable. Overall I enjoyed this book and I recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Amelia W.
Counting by 7s
Sloan, Holly Goldberg
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Counting By 7s" by Holly Goldberg Sloan is a story about a girl and her struggles of going to school for the first time. The main character has to face many difficulties, and find herself along the way. I loved this book when I read it; usually I donate books once I finish them, but this book was a keeper. For my reading level, I found this book really good; not too easy and not too hard. I really loved the plot of this book, and liked seeing the view of the different characters. This book does talk about some heavy topics (including death), but is a very good book to learn about empathy and the impacts your actions have. If you love a happy ending and a satisfying novel, this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Genres:
We Bought a Zoo
Mee, Benjamin
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"We Bought A Zoo", an inspiring story about following your dreams, is an interesting novel. Published in 2008, this book is now a major motion picture. I started reading this book about two months ago, having finished it mid-April. I am in the eighth grade, and found this book a little advanced.
It talked about terminology that is most likely aimed towards an older audience, of that including zoology and business. However, I found this book very informative and inspiring in spite of it's difficulty. This book is a personal narrative from the perspective of Benjamin Mee and his road to zoo owner. The copy I read did include some profanity (cursing), so if that is not something that appeals to you, this book may not be for you. However, if you like an inspiring read and learning new things, this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet
Dionne, Erin
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet", a story about a middle school teen and her struggles of trying to fit in, demonstrates the fact that family is always first. This book talks about Hamlet, a girl going through 8th grade. First of all, I am in 8th grade and find the reading level a little bit easier than I am used to. It is a very well-written novel, but aimed toward a younger audience; on one of the websites that sell this book, it is suggested for 4-7 graders. But other than age, this book is pretty good. It talks about some issues that sometimes/rarely come up with public schooling (this book talks about an extreme of this), and how to deal with fears and anger. Along with being a fictional novel, this book is a mystery.
If you like narrative stories including some elements of mystery and staying strong, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Awards:
Genres:
The One
Cass, Kiera
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was so good, I had such a good time reading it and would definitely read it again. The One is my favorite out of all the other books.
Getting to the end of America's romance was amazing, America is so relatable and is a great character to follow through the series. Although these books are more romantic there are still many parts where I was so excited that I couldn't stay in my seat. I'm so glad that I read this series and took part in America's journey through The Selection. I highly recommend reading this series because I loved it so much that I would easily read it again and have just as much fun as I did reading it the first time.

Reviewer's Name: Tierney B
The Elite
Cass, Kiera
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I love this series! Each book gets better and better as it goes on.
Although this one might not be my favorite out of all the series, it still is an amazing book. I loved every bit of it. If you read the first book you already know that there are some scenes that are more for teens and not kids, but only a few. Overall this book was so much fun to read and go through everything with the characters.

Reviewer's Name: Tierney B
Anthem
Rand, Ayn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I really enjoyed the book Anthem because of the dystopian future theme that was present throughout the book. The book Anthem follows the life of Equality 7-2521, who finds he is set apart from everyone else in his society.
This society that Equality lives in is structured around the opinion of the majority. Equality is intellectually advanced and strong, both are qualities that his society frowns upon since everyone is meant to be considered “equal” there. I strongly recommend that you read this book if you are a fan of similar books, such as The Giver and The Hunger Games, that focus on future societies.
Reviewer Grade= 9

Reviewer's Name: Hanna N.
The Old Man and the Sea
Hemingway, Ernest
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

I did not enjoy reading The Old Man and the Sea mostly due to the format it was written in. The Old Man and the Sea is a book that focuses on one of an old man’s most memorable fishing trips where he attempts to kill massive a fish larger than his very ship. One of the main reasons why I did not enjoy reading this book is because of the fact that all of the main characters have names that are revealed throughout the story, but they are never used by the narrator figure. For example, throughout the entire book, Santiago is only referred to as “the old man” by the narrator, even though his real name is known early on in the novel. I also found the book to have a dull plot, focusing on descriptive writing rather than events that occur within the story. Even though I did not particularly enjoy reading this book, there is a lot of symbolism and descriptive writing throughout the novel, which some people may enjoy.
Reviwer Grade= 9

Reviewer's Name: Hanna N
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
Sanderson, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Never before have I read a book that has been so self-aware . . . and I loved every minute of it. There’s breaking the fourth wall, and then there’s Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. A fun and hilarious read for teens and adults, this book’s premise is as ridiculous as it is original. Of course, while it tends to border on the random (for maximum comedic effect), this book also manages to tie all these random pieces together in the most satisfying way. The comedy in this book is effortless, and the plot is certainly the most interesting thing I’ve read recently.

I think the ability of this book to successfully break norms and fully immerse the reader in the world is due to Sanderson’s talent as a fantasy writer. The details that seem odd, like receiving a bag of sand for your thirteenth birthday, manage to be relevant to the climax of the story. Even the unique “superpowers” present in this narrative are fully fleshed out, and the minutia of how they work makes sense and adds to the depth of the characters. In fact, these superpowers practically define the personalities of the people who wield them.

While this is only the second Sanderson book I’ve finished reading (I’m still working on The Way of Kings ), I am quickly becoming a fan of his work. Or, at least I genuinely enjoy the shorter books that he writes, like this one. I can’t wait to pick up the rest of the books in this series, because the characters and the world are so real to me that I want to keep reading to find out what happens next. Who knew that unassuming librarians could make the best villains? Maybe that’s the whole point, though?

A hilarious, random, and well thought-out adventure, I give Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
Genres:
Book Review: Furyborn
Legrand, Claire
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Rielle and Eliana live centuries apart, but they do have one thing in common: the ability to control all elements. Typically, folk can control just one, but Rielle and Eliana could boast mastery of them all – that is, if Eliana was aware she had powers. Rielle’s powers manifested at a young age and led to a great tragedy that her family did everything they could to cover up. However, once Rielle’s magical prowess comes to light, she finds herself at the mercy of the king and his magical trials to determine whether or not she’d use her power for good, or evil. Eliana, on the other hand, is pretty transparently evil. She’s an assassin for the crown in a kill-or-be-killed world. When an atypical assignment sees her switching sides to help the rebels, she ends up on the run. Both women find themselves caught up in a centuries long war, and they are the key to its outcome.

This ended up being a pretty fun read! The book starts off with a bang as we witness Rielle’s (probable) death. I really liked that storytelling device, as we now know where Rielle ends up but get to find out how she got there. Rielle’s story was definitely my favorite of the two – she’s a flawed but interesting character, there were magic trials involved, and there’s a Guinevere/Lancelot/Arthur style romantic dilemma (gender swapped). Romance in YA can be very hit or miss for me (let alone a love triangle), but I really liked this one. But my favorite part was probably the magic trials, we got to witness all of them (many times in books there’s a montage of sorts) and they were creative and sounded horrible but were ultimately really fun to read.

Eliana, unfortunately, was not quite as fun to read. She’s a really unlikable, one-dimensional character who is only looking out for herself and her brother. She consistently makes the worst decisions without talking to anyone about them. She lets people she ostensibly “loves” die with few qualms. Developments at the end (one of which you’ll see coming) make me think that she might be a bit more tolerable in the next book, but I definitely found myself racing through her chapters to spend more time with Rielle.

Normally, I’m not one for angels unless they are evil (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) or silly (Good Omens). I am happy to report that while there are angels in this book, they definitely (mostly) fit in the evil category, so I really enjoyed the rich, complex worldbuilding. There’s also actual cursing in this book, which is something I think we need more of in YA – teenagers curse, y’all. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the book is sex-positive!

Furyborn is a pretty inventive YA fantasy with solid worldbuilding that makes good use of a semi-rarely used plot device. I think older teens, especially fans of Sarah J. Maas, will really like it! I know I enjoyed it. 3 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the eARC, which I received for review consideration. Furyborn will become available for purchase on 22 May, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Waste of Space
Gibbs, Stuart
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a fantasy book. Dash again has to solve another crimal mystery. Someone has posion Lar but who? At the end he finds an space scerte. Can he put all the pieces together.

Reviewer's Name: Ayden
Book Review: The Smoke Thieves
Green, Sally
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Tash hunts demons for their smoke, which is illegal and highly dangerous. As smoke can be sold on the black market for a pretty penny, Tash does not care.

Catherine is the daughter of a cruel, bloodthirsty king who is soon to leave to marry a prince she’s never met, even though she’s in love with Ambrose, her royal guard. His love for Catherine is dangerous, and he faces losing his head for his infatuation.

March is the servant to yet another prince in another kingdom. His people were destroyed in a war that happened during his childhood, and he wants nothing but revenge.

Edyon is the child of a trader. While his mother’s livelihood depends on her ability to sell her goods, he likes nothing so much as to steal.

Unbeknownst to these five teens, their paths and destinies will cross as they try to save their kingdoms from an evil tyrant.

This is a perfectly good YA fantasy novel, but it was nothing special. The worldbuilding and characters are not at all new; in fact, it really reads like a watered down Game of Thrones for the younger set. Like GoT, the teens start off in separate kingdoms, there’s a lot of politics, and each chapter follows a different person. It’s also fairly bloody – there was a lot more killing than one might expect in a YA novel, and I’ll admit, I kind of liked it. Most of the deaths weren’t impactful, because it’s hard to develop side characters in a book with five mostly separate main characters, but it was refreshing to read a book where characters actually die instead of all of them improbably surviving. The romance between Ambrose and Catherine was tortured and annoyed me and of course, a bit of a love triangle develops, but another romance develops later in the book that I found a lot more promising.

Overall, this is a solid YA fantasy. I may check out book two, because I suspect it’ll be better (this book was largely introduction and worldbuilding) but I’ll probably skip it. The Smoke Thieves was somewhere between 2 and 3 stars for me, but I’m going to round up to 3. It was pretty good.

Thanks to Netgalley and Viking for the eARC, which I received for review consideration. The Smoke Thieves is available now and you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Snow Falling on Cedars
Guterson, David
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This was an amazingly written book with a centralized focus on a piece of history that is rarely paid much attention to. Focusing on the false trial of Kabuo Hiyamoto for murder, a Japanese-American man living on San Piedro Island, the book discusses prejudices harbored against Japanese people after WW2 and internment camps and tackles the idea of what is socially acceptable vs. what is morally correct. Guterson's writing style flows well and reads like an easygoing narrative, leaving most of the inferences and questioning to be made about morals to the reader. It questions human nature and the role of justice in vengeance, and leaves us wondering ourselves about humanity, with mixed feelings of both disgust at some of the characters and hope for the future.

Reviewer's Name: Gia D.
Awards:
Genres:
Valley of the Lost
Rodda, Emily
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Valley of the Lost is the seventh book in the Deltora Quest series, and bring a ton of knowledge to the table, in terms of the Deltora Quest series. The past of the world that Emily has created is unveiled even further, and it makes this book valuable to the series. The backstories of characters such as Doom are also revealed and bring so many pieces to the puzzle of the world of Deltora. While the beginning of the book is partially unimportant and somewhat uninteresting, the rest of it is amazing. Instead of a terrible monster at the end, the trio, Lief, Jasmine, and Barda, are faced with a puzzle in order to get the last gem to the Belt of a Deltora. The must figure out the Guardian's name. The puzzle is complex and fits the story perfectly. The book is overall a great read, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes adventure novels and puzzles.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Genres:
The Maze of the Beast
Rodda, Emily
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Maze of the Beast is the sixth book in the Deltora Quest series, and it is quite the adventure novel. While the story and series may be directed towards a younger audience, the book remains a wonderfully entertaining read. The new characters in the Maze of the Beast are incredibly well developed and most have good backstories, and this particular book is full of unexpected plot twists. They twists and turns are probably the best part of this book, as they flow very well together and add precious little details to the story. The beasts, traps, and terrors also stand out. The new monster called the Ol is very intriguing, and add to the suspense of the book. I will say that the one fault in the series, at least to me, is that the "boss" monster at the end usually doesn’t add much to story. It isn’t very terrifying, and it seems underwhelming after the rest of the action packed events. I would recommend this book to anyone with a bit of spare time on their hands, as this light read proves very amusing.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Genres:
Return to Del
Rodda, Emily
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book, Return to Del, by Elimy Rodda, is a thrilling conclusion to the first Deltora Quest book series. With the high level set by her other books, I was expecting a worse ending (which generally happens to other series), but I got the complete opposite. The book tops off the series nicely and concludes with some unexpected events. The entire plan to hide the heir and the background of the world of Deltora is even further revealed. Everything fits together, and it’s nice to see the well developed characters get some action and bond together to fight the Shadow Lord for one epic, final battle.

I nothing much to say other than the book is outstanding, and that Inwould reccommend it to anyone with a bit of time to read a good book.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Genres:

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