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All Book Reviews

The Name of the Wind
Rothfuss, Patrick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When JRR Tolkein wrote Lord of the Rings, it revolutionized the fantasy genre and paved the way for many novels to come. 53 years later, The Name of the Wind was published, and while it may not have the grandiose setting, story, and lore, it is a fantasy journey that should not be missed.
You follow the life of Kvothe as he tells his famous story to a man for prosperity. The story itself is grand and epic, and is satisfying to read, and it contains action, magic, and love. I would recommend the book to anyone who is a fan of fantasy novels.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
Genres:
The Stand
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After a super virus wipes out almost 90% of the entire global population, only a handful of survivors remain. That is where The Stand takes place; an America devoid of almost all human life, as the survivors attempt to rebuild their society, all while battling the sadistic Walkin' Dude who is out to destroy them. The novel is long, epic, and deep. It is, however, over 1,000 pages; however, give it time, and you will truly enjoy this journey. I would recommend this book to fans of epics like Lord of the Rings, Stephen King fans, or anyone looking for a good read.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
Meg

Meg

Alten, Steve
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

While Jaws may have terrified readers with it's suspense, Meg follows in Peter Benchley's footsteps for only a few steps-and then veers off in a completely different direction. This is a novel all about a small group of scientists trying to kill a gigantic megalodon shark after it escapes from it's hovel in the Marianas Trench. It also has a pinch of scientific mumbo-jumbo and horror to draw all sorts of different readers and to keep you hooked. The characters are diverse, likable, and fleshed-out, and the main antagonist, the 60 foot long megalodon shark, is so entertaining to read about. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys action, suspense, or sharks!

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
Liu, Majorie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I chose this book because comics are a type of novel that I find interest in. This is a fantasy book that takes place where monsters and humans are divided after a war, and monsters who are caught by humans on the other side are used to be sold and experimented on. The main character, Maika, goes on the other side in search for hope of her mother. This is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys comics.

Reviewer's Name: Mona H
Uprooted
Novik, Naomi
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Uprooted by Naomi Novik was an interesting read - with magic and mythical creatures - but I found that in the first few chapters I stepped away from the novel several times. The beginning was slow with not much action, more setting up the scenery and the laws of the land than anything else. The novel follows a girl named Agnieszka living in a quaint village called Dvernik by a magic infested forest where every ten years a mysterious and immortal wizard called the Dragon, who lives in a nearby tower, visits to pick one woman as payment for protecting Dvernik from The Wood. Agnieszka is chosen to her surprise, but her interactions with the infamous Dragon are almost boring - they share a typical, overused trope in a love-hate relationship that frustrates the reader. The two are also locked away in the tower where there are minimal outside interactions from any other characters for almost the entire first half with the exception of one of Agnieszka‘s bedridden friends. I found that the last half of the novel was the most interesting because that was when other characters from the faraway capital were introduced and the scenes were more fast-paced. Because the world building aspect in the beginning was making me impatient, the problem was that later when Agnieszka returns to her village, I spent a long time away from there that the characters and their relationships were hard to remember and I personally did not care for them. There were definitely characters I met in the last half that I empathized or was absolutely lucid with and I did enjoy all the plot twists because, of course, they were unexpected and added some excitement to Uprooted. Overall, the beginning takes off one star for me due to the inaction and some common young adult tropes were utilized, but I loved most of the characters and the plotline anyway regardless of the latter.

Reviewer's Name: Isabella W
Genres:
The Man He Never Was
Rubart, James
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

James Rubart has been one of my favorite Christian authors for a long time, and his latest, The Man He Never Was, does not disappoint. This is not just “a modern re imagining of Jekyll and Hyde,” it is a story of one man’s radical journey to discover what true love really looks like and the freedom we find through redemption.

Torren Daniels is a regular guy pursuing the career of his dreams. A football star with a loving family and everything to lose. He lives for the game, taking out his anger and frustration like most guys on the football field, through the game. But one day when he goes to far, his perfect life and career fall apart and he is left with nothing but his anger, frustration and rage at himself and his family.

Fast forward eight months, Torren has disappeared and everyone, including his wife and family, believe he is dead. Until one day he shows up in a hotel room with nothing but his wallet, the clothes on his back, and no memory of his life for the past eight months. But one thing he does know, he has come back different. More different than he has ever been before. The anger and frustration he has dealt with all of his life, seems to be gone. Instead being replaced with love, patience, and kindness, but are these changes truly real or are they simply an illusion?

What follows in the preceding days, is not only a physical journey to discover what happened to him, but a spiritual one that reveals the struggle of good and evil we all face inside ourselves and the redemptive freedom we can experience when Christ’s true love is set free within us.

Rubart’s storytelling gets down to the issues in a fast-paced way that does not dwell on flourishes and world building, as much as it does on character development. Torren is not a likeable character especially at the beginning of the book, but as the book progresses, and he goes on this journey, we see how the other relationships in his life, shape how his character responds. The other character’s in the book likewise are shaped by, and changed by, how his character responds to them, especially Torren’s wife.

Rubart’s story is highly complex, and as the story unfolds and the layers are peeled back, we see the struggle that is really going on inside Torren. Rubart approaches issues such as broken relationships, anger, loss, forgiveness, and abandonment in a way that is both realistic and extremely relatable. These issues and how they shape his character’s lives, also help shape the timber and tone of the overall story and come to a head in the conclusion of the story in an important and life changing way.

Rubart’s stories have always been complex and interesting. But one of the things I have always loved about him as an author and continue to love about him, evident in this book and the others I have read, is the way he has a way of presenting spiritual truths in a highly complex and original way but within the real world and in a way that is not overbearing, and is extremely relatable. The Man He Never Was, does not just present an updated version of the story of Jekyll and Hyde but takes the story and makes it real in a way that I never considered or imagined. Rubart takes the characters of Jekyll and Hyde and presents them as allegories as he explores the battle of good versus evil that is constantly going on inside each one of us.

Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas Nelson Fiction for an E-Arc of this book for review. This book is out February 20 but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie
Genres:
The Outcasts of Time
Mortimer, Ian
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book follows the story of two brothers John and William in 1340’s Medieval England who are suffering from the Black Death. But as their end draws near, they are given a choice that changes the course of their lives forever. They are told that they have six days left to live, which they can either spend with their loved ones, or search for salvation and redemption for their lives across the centuries; spending each one of their remaining days 99 years after the last. So, each day takes places one century after the last. The brothers choose the latter and are launched into an adventure that spans centuries in the time frame of a few days.

Observers of the world across centuries, John and William hardly recognize the world around them each day they wake up, and as their journey for salvation progresses, questions the world around them in a way that has readers questioning humanities true motives. Rather than focusing on the good things and advancements the world has made through the centuries, the characters, especially John, ponder how these advancements have brought humanity farther and farther away from God. As the years and days progress, the novel asks the question what is true salvation really and examines the idea of what is good verses bad?

When I received an ARC of this book in the mail from the publisher at first, I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of it, but as I read the back, I became excited, because this book deals with a sci-fi like subject of time travel in a way I haven’t seen before. This book took me a while to get through and it also is a book that really makes you think. Warning! If you are looking for only a traditional time travel sci-fi book, this book is probably not for you however, if you like historical fiction this book is probably more for you. This book deals with time travel in a highly conceptual way. It is a time travel book written by a very noted historian and reads very much like a historical novel with all the historical details you would find in a history book. But it is also very philosophical as the main character questions the world and the ideas in it. As this quote from John shows when he is discussing, with the family he is staying with, the bad things done by others around them.

“I myself wish for nothing more than to spend the rest of my days engaged in good deeds,’ I say. But how can I tell what a good deed is in this day and age? What is “good” and “bad” if God’s law is constantly changing? How can we do good if the meaning of “good” and “bad” are dependent on who wins the war? How can a man go through this world in sure knowledge that he is doing the right and proper thing?”

This is just one of many philosophical musings that the author poses through the book that seek to answer difficult questions and these details really make the reader think and ponder the difficult answers to questions like, what is good verses bad. These details I think also give the book a conceptual quality that puts it above the norm and makes it more than just another sci-fi book about time travel.

Ian Mortimer is an excellent historian and the historical detail in this book are incredible! He weaves together history and time travel in a highly original and interesting way that makes readers both question the world and presents readers with a clear picture of England’s evolution from a small underdeveloped town to a large industrial country that leads the world in more ways than one. I highly recommend this book for readers of historical fiction or anyone who likes highly conceptual, philosophical books that question the world and everything in it. I give this book a solid 5 out of 5 stars!

Thank you to the publisher Pegasus Books for an ARC of this book for review.

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie M.
Took: A Ghost Story
Hahn, May Downing
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Took: a ghost story is about a family the moves to a not well known tiny town. The town has a person named Old auntie and her hog named Bloody Bones. They have been haunting the town for over 150 years. It is up to the 13 year old, Daniel, to stand up to the witch and make her stop. I liked the book because there was a good mystery factor. Overall, I would recommend this book to kids who like mystery novels.

Reviewer's Name: Kate B.
Awards:
Genres:
Shift
Bradbury, Jennifer
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Shift is a story about two boys that go cross country on their bikes and learn something not only about the other person but about themselves. The novel does a good job explaining what it’s like to lose friends and how to cope with it. I really liked this book because I was able to know what was going on and relate to some of the characters. Jennifer Bradbury did an outstanding job with the suspense factor of the story. Overall, I would recommend this story to a teenager who likes mystery stories.

Reviewer's Name: Kate B.
Awards:
Genres:
Robogenesis
Wilson, Daniel H.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

While I appreciated the logical nature that Daniel H. Wilson brought to the idea of a robot apocalypse in Robopocalypse, I felt the book itself was disjointed as a series of short stories that examined the various forms our robot servants would turn on us. The whole book seemed more like an academic exercise than a piece of fiction. In the follow-up to Robopocalypse, Wilson picks up right where the last book left off. With the exposition of how the robots turned on us already covered, he then is able to fully explore the fictional environment via its characters in Robogenesis.

It took me a little while to recall who some of these characters were and what had happened during the previous book, which left me confused in the early moments of each section. Once I eventually got my bearings, the stories themselves were interesting and tied together pretty well. Some of the action was a little disorienting, but overall I had a good idea what was happening. There were a few storylines I would have liked to see fleshed out more (like Matilda’s storyline), as well as some that were perhaps fleshed out too much.

And by “fleshed out,” I’m of course referring to the almost gratuitous and graphic violence that’s present in this book. I’m not sure it was really necessary, and it was more unsettling than anything else. I mean, I get that the end of the world will be violent, but it doesn’t need to be described in gory detail. At least by the end of the book, it looks like there’s a satisfying conclusion, but with the clear indication that the war is not over. This means I’ll probably have to read the next book in this series whenever it comes out.

A good sci-fi that blends realism with a few entertaining characters, I give Robogenesis 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Walk Two Moons
Creech, Sharon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Walk two moons is a great way to express the life of a teenager. I really liked the book because I can relate to some of the circumstances. When Sal is trying to solve mysteries about her life, and how her mom went missing, she also learns many things about herself. Sharon Creech did a very good job with portraying emotion throughout the whole book. The reader is able to feel empathy for all the character because of the detail in the book. Overall, I would very much recommend this book to over readers.

Reviewer's Name: Kate B.
Genres:
Book Review: A Man Called Ove
Backman, Fredrik
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book starts of slow and then continues a leisurely pace throughout. It was a bit hard for me to get through the first half of the novel as it mainly dealt with the thought process of a suicidal curmudgeon. But as the novel unfolds, Ove is unwrapped to show a man with quiet strength who is mourning the loss of his wife and his job. As the novel continues, we meet people who insert themselves into his life, showing him kindness and giving him purpose. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a quiet, leisurely novel about the power of friendship.

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

In Other Lands follows young Elliot Schafer as he tumbles through a wall (well, his teacher bribed a weird lady to let him through the wall, but whatever) into another land at age 13. He's given the opportunity to go home or go to magic school, and, like any bright young kid who has ever read, like, any book ever, he decides to go to magic school. There, he befriends golden boy warrior Luke and stoic elf warrior Serene (our fearful nerd Elliot decides to take the council course as he is deathly allergic to exercise and also, killing), and the book follows their exploits throughout the duration of their time in school.

Ok, so, that synopsis does not even begin to do this book justice. I will be forcing this into the hands of any person that walks into the teen center that says that they have even a remote interest in fantasy. Because this was so good. The best thing I've read so far this year for sure (and I've already read like 20 things this year, so that's not nothing). Anyway, on to actual information about the book.

Elliot is kind of a jerk. On purpose. But his jerkiness is mostly hilarious, and a lot of the book is his witty, spot on assessments of himself, the world, and the people around him. Luke and Serene are equally nuanced as characters and are quite lovable despite their flaws. One of my favorite parts of the book was that elf culture has the same messed up gender roles and sexism that we humans do...but the male and female roles are reversed. It makes not just for some of the most hilarious passages that I've ever read, but also serves as probably the most effective argument against said gender roles being a part of any society. It was, quite frankly, brilliant. For example: “Do not have a catfight, boys, even if it is that time of the month,” said Serene, and when she saw them staring at her, she explained: “You know—women shed their dark feelings with their menses every month? But men, robbed of that outlet, have strange moodswings and become hysterical at a certain phase of the moon?”

Insanely great egalitarian commentary aside, this was an excellent coming of age novel. The relationship and friendship between our three main characters is complex, but they all love each other and grow so much together throughout the book. And at the end of the day, this book is not really about other lands, it's about the peoples that occupy them. As an added bonus, it demonstrates that communication and shared experiences amongst peoples could almost always lead to peace. In doing that, it also effectively skewers nationalism.

I really liked the romance in the book, but you figure out Elliot's end game partner (yes, Elliot is bisexual!) at about 50% of the way through the book. They don't actually get together until the end and its one of those situations where you want to knock their heads together and yell COMMUNICATE DANG IT at them until they realize they like each other and just make out or whatever. Speaking of which, there is a lot of sex in this one. It's mostly off camera, but the one scene that makes it in is really sweet.

I obviously loved this book. If I were to try to compare it to something, it's most like Carry On by Rainbow Rowell in that it's kind of a love letter to classic fantasy (it's more Tortall to Carry On's Harry Potter) that then transcends the original source material. It's quirky enough that it won't be for everybody, but I think a lot of readers will love it. I just purchased my own copy. Like, without waiting for a Goodreads deal. It's that good. Or, in PPLD parlance, it was Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome! 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Book Review: Sounder
Armstrong, William H.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I've been on a children's book about dogs kick lately. I started with Shiloh, went to Where the Red Fern Grows, and ended with Sounder (I may read Old Yeller too). Sounder is the winner of the Newbery Medal, but it was the least powerful book out of the three. I almost feel like I may have read an abridged version of the book. The characters weren't well developed and there wasn't really a sense of desperation and overt class stratification that the book's summary promised. Overall, it was underwhelming. I'm being nice and giving it 3 stars instead of 2.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
'Book Review: The Snowman'
Nesbo, Jo
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Have you ever heard of Leatherface? Hannibal Lecter? Freddy Krueger? Good. Because if you like those kinds of killers and movies, then you will absolutely love this novel, The Snowman. The book follows the path of a detective with a dark past who is forced to hunt down one of the most deadly and disturbing killers he has ever faced, as he simultaneously struggles with the battle within himself. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I would recommend this novel to people who enjoy thrillers, horror novels, or anyone who enjoys getting a little disturbed sometimes.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C.
Awards:
Book Review: Don Quixote
Cervantes, Miguel de
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Written in 1605, and translated in at least 50 languages, the novel Don Quixote has often been considered the father of western literature. And for good reason. Coming in at around over 900 pages, this novel is an amazing read. This book follows the hilarious journey of Don Quixote and his portly sidekick, Sancho Panza, as they travel around Spain searching for adventures. I would suggest this book to anyone who enjoys long novels, humor, or anything like Princess Bride.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C.
Awards:
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza
Hutchinson, Shaun David
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Elena is not your average teen. As the only human proven to be birthed as a result of parthenogenesis (you might know this as a “virgin birth”), she’s been hearing voices from signs and inanimate objects. But things are about to go to the next level. One day, at work, the Starbucks Siren tells her to heal her crush, Freddie, who looks fine. But then, a kid they know comes out of nowhere and shoots Freddie. Then he disappears into the sky in a flash of light. And Elena DOES heal Freddie. And then, somehow, things get even crazier as the Siren tells Elena she has to keep healing people (which leads to more disappearances) or start the apocalypse.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of unique, quirky books that are more than a little strange (I call them wonderfully weird), and so this one was right up my alley. Elena is an extremely likable character, and we get to listen to most of her thought processes as she thinks about the mundane (her crush, her relationship with her ne’er do well stepfather) and the existential (why she has the powers, and should she use them?). The supporting cast is also pretty great: Freddie, the popular art student who didn’t even know Elena’s name before she got shot, was probably my favorite character. After getting killed, she really doesn’t care so much about what people think of her, and as a result her commentary was extremely snarky, sometimes hurtful and almost always spot on. Fadil, Elena’s best friend, was a good foil as the devout teen, but he also served to demonstrate a powerful male/female friendship. Because of the philosophical nature of the book, the plot takes a backseat to character development and metaphysical conversations. I probably highlighted more in this book than I have in any other in recent memory. The downside to this, though, is that the plot sags a little in the middle and the ending left me wanting a bit more as a lot of plot lines were left dangling.

Another big selling point of the book for me was that the premise immediately made think of this show called Wonderfalls which is a bit of a cult classic from the early aughts. Later on in the book, it’s pretty clear that the author had likely just binged all of Bryan Fuller’s early shows like Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and yes, Wonderfalls as this book contains elements of each of those shows, and there is a straight up name drop of a location that delighted me to no end. If you are a fan of Bryan Fuller’s properties (including recent hits like American Gods), this is a read you should definitely pick up.

If you like to think about the ethics and the big questions – why are we here, what matters, how can you decide the value of one life over another – then you will love this book. It’s a wonderfully weird thought provoking read, and while it’s not perfect, the diverse, likable cast and philosophical quandaries make it something of a rare gem of a book. 4 stars. I really liked it.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for the eARC, which I received for review consideration.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Pet Sematary
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Review: If you have any pets, I recommend removing them from the vicinity!
This novel, coming in at around 400 pages, is a very chilling read. You follow an ordinary family in a not so ordinary town as they attempt to deal with the realization that anyone buried in the cemetery behind their house horrifyingly comes back to life. This all starts when they bury their cat, and they then find it beck in their house. This book is very good, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes horror, thrillers, or maybe people who like zombies.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:
IT

IT

King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Review: This book is incredible. One of the scariest novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading is also one of the longest. In this book you follow the journey of seven characters - all brilliantly well rounded and fleshed out, if I may add. You alternate between their experiences during childhood and adulthood of facing and fighting the demonic and supernatural clown, Pennywise. I recommend this book to fans of horror and Stephen King, or anyone who enjoys a long read of a good book.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
The Way of Kings
Sanderson, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Review: This book is amazing, period. Sanderson has created a truly living, breathing world with his debut novel in the Stormbringer Archives series, and I believe that this novel deserves a spot next to the classics of Tolkien and Robert Jordan. The book follows the separate journeys of multiple characters across the world of this universe; however, even though the different tales seem separate, they all end up interconnecting and melding into one truly grandiose story. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the Lord of the Rings and such, fantasy enthusiasts, or anyone who is simply searching for a good book. However, the length of the book, being over one thousand pages long, may put some people off, but if you give this book the time and dedication that it truly deserves, you will be rewarded with an amazing experience.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:

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