All Book Reviews

Muse of Nightmares
Taylor, Laini
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This follow up to the beautiful best seller Strange the Dreamer picks up right where the first one left off. This book is just as intense, dark, raw, magical, entrancing, dreamy, atmospheric, and amazing as the first one. I can not sing the praises of Laini Taylor enough. She is a force in YA fiction that infuses her characters with such deep emotions, that the reader cannot help but to be pulled in to the tide of emotion that the character is feeling. This is definitely a very emotional book that transcends the story itself, to explore the power of the human spirit.

When we left Lanzlo and the others in Strange the Dreamer, the citadel had nearly fallen, Lazlo had just discovered his true identity, that he was more than just farangii junior librarian who liked to dream, but a god blessed with the very god like power that caused so much pain and anger all those years ago when the godspawn first came to Weep. Sarai his lover also was no longer a goddess but a ghost. She goes to join the ranks of other ghosts all held together and controlled by her sister Minya who is still intent on the revenge of Weep, and holds both of them hostage using Sarai’s soul as a bargaining chip. We also have the addition of two new characters Kora and Nova, and their stories intertwine to meld with the main narrative in both beautiful, surprising and painfully sad ways. As these various characters go through the grief and trauma, and pain that resulted from the citadel’s near fall, they also discover all they are truly capable of.

If Strange the Dreamer was about the question of Identity, Muse of Nightmares is about the question of origins. This book also explores origins from many different perspectives. It explores origins of the citadel and how it came to be in Weep, of Weep the city itself, it explores the circumstances of Lazlo’s true birth and nature, it also explores how the other characters in the book, such as Minya, developed to become the people they are today and how their perspectives shape their future actions. It asks the question What really happened all those years ago? And the various answers to this question once their discovered, are anything but simple. They open up paths to new worlds, characters, and horrors that are both painful and beautiful. Filled with mystery, intrigue, loss, pain, beauty beyond imagining, and so much
more, Muse of Nightmares is a diamond in the rough of YA fiction and needs to read by everyone. Laini Taylor is a truly magical and memorable writer. If you haven’t yet please pick up the first book of this series Strange the Dreamer, these characters are truly memorable characters that everyone needs in their life. This book come out October 2, so now is the time to catch up if you haven’t yet. You can put both on your holds list today! Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie
Genres:
Peter Pan
Barrie, J. M.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I LOVED this book! Although it was written a long time ago by an unsuccessful playwright, J. M. Barrie perfectly captured the imagination and creativity of young children. The reason he was disliked in his time was because he never really grew out of his kid-self. Which, I think, I think is where the inspiration for Peter Pan came, “the boy who never grew up”.
But anyways, Wendy and her younger brothers are born into a family that struggles financially but are obsessed with appearing rich to their wealthy neighbors… a common trend, even today. But Wendy and her brothers are whisked into a world where imagination runs wild-- the land that is hidden in all children’s minds, the one that is different for every child, Neverland.
What I love about this book is the constant thread of hidden and discreet themes about humanity, ones that continue today. It also taps into a child’s world of freedom, imagination, and oppression from adults. One of the most heartbreaking chapters is at the very end, when Wendy grows up, forgets about Peter, and gets lost in the adult world. But she has a daughter, Jane, and Jane is a kid, so she can imagine and believe in Peter Pan. Naturally, Peter Pan never really hit it off in it’s time, because of the controversial thoughts, and the point of view from kids.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Wish Girl
Loftin, Nikki
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Peter Stone needs a reason to live. Annie Blythe doesn't want to die.
When Peter's parents find the notes he hid, they move the family to Texas Hill County. But he still can't escape their swelling noise... until he sneaks off and discovers a seemingly magic valley, bursting with simply beautiful wildlife and nature. He meets the mysterious girl, Annie. She's a budding artist with terminal cancer, and in less than tow weeks, she's undergoing an extremely dangerous treatment to stop it before it spreads. Her eccentric and dreamy 'live-art' creates a haven for both of them, an escape from chaotic lives.
This book was pretty good, because I felt like the style of writing was meant for a slightly younger audience, which is interesting, because the topics it handled were mature and tough. -Jordan, Grade 8

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, Scott F.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I thought this book captured an element in life that writing doesn't normally follow. While most books talk about the underprivileged, or those trying to overcome a great challenge, this book spun a tale about glamorous cocktail parties, elegant evening wear, the enticing, almost seductive society of wealth. Nick Carraway moves into a house next to Gatsby, an extravagant, self-made millionaire in the 1920's, and is thrown into the fast-paced and whirling word of millionaires and all their expensive friends.
But Gatsby has a secret, buried under fancy cars and fizzy drinks: he is still in love with Daisy, the wife of Tom Buchanan. In his attempts to cultivate an affair with her, Nick documents the heart-wrenching, and frankly, very interesting, journey of a man who realises money can't buy him love. -Jordan, 8th grade Your Name: Jordan T, 8th grade

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Awards:
Genres:
Eliza and Her Monsters
Zappia, Francesca
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Eliza and Her Monsters is a beautifully imaginative piece that focuses around Eliza Mirk and her secret web comic "Monstrous Sea". Eliza is a famous web comic artist but nobody knows that it's her, even her family.
She's a nobody at school until Wallace Warland arrives and they begin their friendship. Everything is fine except Wallace is the biggest fan of "Monstrous Sea" and Eliza continues to hide her true identity. A riveting story for those who love romance, high school angst, and hidden identities.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Genres:
The Poisonwood Bible
Kingsolver, Barbara
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Nathan Price moves his wife and four daughters out into the Congo in 1959. He's a prolific and die-hard evangelical Baptist pastor, with his mind set on converting the majority of the Congo population to Christianity. His wife, Orleanna, is submissive and silent, obeying him and allowing him to hit their children. Rachel, the eldest Price daughter, arrogant, self-centered, and sorely missing her comfortable 16 year-old life back in the States. Next come the twins, Adah and Leah. Adah is shriveled up and crippled, but her mind runs like a confusing, rampaging fire. Leah has cut her hair short and vows to shoot her bow and arrow as well as any village boys. And Ruth May, the baby of the family at 5 years old, with her warped and imaginative outlooks on their jungle surroundings. The Price family is trying to hold it together as the Congo fights for independence from Belgium, as they watch children starve to death on their doorstep, and the colorful like of the jungle swirl around their broken household. -Jordan T, 8th grade

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Albertalli, Becky
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Becky Albertalli's novel "Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is a wonderful coming of age book that shows the hardships of being different in high school. Simon Spier is your average high school student. He has a close group of friends who he loves, he gets decent grades, loves participating in theater, but he keeps a secret about himself from all of those around him.
"Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is a great story for those who love love, drama, and just being a teenager. Truly a story for the ages.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Genres:
The Serpent King
Zentner, Jeff
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

'The Serpent King' gripped me in its coils and kept me turning its pages late into the night. A triumph of love and dignity," (New York Times Bestselling author, Stephanie Perkins). In the depths of a small Tennessee town, Dill Early struggles with a reputation that isn't even his. With an insane, jailed minister for a father and a brainwashed, beat-down mother, Dill does not expect to escape from the recesses of poverty and shame. "The Serpent King" tracks the senior year of outcasts Dill and his best friends Travis and Lydia. Throughout this exhilarating novel you experience joy, heartbreak, hope, and thankfulness for your own situation.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Genres:
From Twinkle, With Love
Menon, Sandhya
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"From Twinkle, With Love" is an adorable and anxiety producing book.
Twinkle Mehra is a high school student struggling with her unpopularity and loss of her best friend to "the feathered hats". She is a film enthusiast who's dream is to become a well-respected director and when she gets the chance to direct a film and possibly move up on the social ladder, she takes it. Twinkle struggles with the truth of her work and her desire to be noticed. The ups and downs of this book nearly give you a heart attack as you sit there hoping Twinkle makes the right decision.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Genres:
This Savage Song
Victoria Schwab
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw, shadow and bone will eat you raw.
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly, smile and bite and drink you dry. Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal, sing you a song and steal your soul. Monsters, monsters, big and small, they're gonna come and eat you all." This poem/song describes the monsters that inhabit the city of Verity in this futuristic, distopian world. "This Savage Song" is an excellent book for readers who love a good mystery and slight thriller. In a world gone completely rotten, monsters have risen up from people's sins. The two main characters, Kate Harker and August Flynn are on opposite sides of a war where no one truly wins. Kate wants to be as ruthless as her tyrannical father, while August just wants to be human, when he's really not. A study of humanity and one's willingness to survive, Victoria Schwab's "This Savage Song" is sure to engage any reader.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Awards:
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Berendt, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A word of warning: This book contains discriminatory and vulgar language, including the N-word and other severe cusses. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil follows a quirky, discombobulated town. The residents are an amalgam of a depressed inventor who's secret poison could kill the entire city, a drag queen who dances exotically and drops bombs of dirtiness, a wealthy and closeted gay antiques dealer who loves to corrupt social norms, and a voodoo priestess who sneaks into graveyards at midnight, among other deranged, hilarious, and nonconforming people. This town is so dysfunctional and dark that it functions. The first half of the book was devoted to charting and describing the mysterious lives of the residents of Savannah, Georgia. The second half followed the conviction and multiple trials of one particular resident after he 'murdered' someone else. However, I would encourage you to read the Author's Note at the end, but only after you finish the book. It left me dazed for days at the major plot twist snuck at the very end.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Black Wings Beating Cover Image
London, Alex
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In a world where dominion over birds of prey equals power, twins Brysen and Kylee have a love/hate relationship with falconry. Brysen longs to be good at the sport, but lacks the patience and ability. Kylee is a natural, and even has powers that allow her to speak with the birds, but she just wants to pay back their family’s debts and then leave their village forever. When Brysen compounds their debt and then agrees to hunt the ghost eagle – the very same eagle who killed their father – Kylee knows that she has to help, or lose her brother to the birds as well.

The world building in this book is phenomenal. London creates a rich world with opposing religions about to go to war, and creates an entirely new mythology built around falconry. Now, I know there are other fantasies based around falconry, but as I’ve not read them, this was all totally new and fascinating to me. Kylee and Brysen take turns narrating, and their perspectives were realistic and different enough that you had a great feel for them as characters quite early on in the book. They were so authentic as not to be entirely likable – Brysen in particular makes quite a few stupid and/or impulsive decisions and I found him to be a bit hard to root for. I really enjoyed Kylee, though, and I loved how the world was presented with equality in terms of sexuality and race. Several of our characters are people of color and/or LGBTQ+, and they don’t seem to be oppressed or seen any differently because of it, which was refreshing to read.

For this reader, the plot left something to be desired. The book starts off with a bang, but then quickly devolves into an adventure story in the woods as Kylee and Brysen search for the ghost eagle. The aforementioned “opposing religions about to go to war” parts show the most promise, but were unfortunately relegated to the background. That will likely change in the sequel, but it made this book a slow read for me. I actually put it down in the middle and read an entirely different book as it wasn’t really holding my interest. I felt like the book might have worked really well as a prequel novella, but as a full length novel, there was a lot of filler as Kylee and Brysen navigate the woods with only one important seeming development.

Black Wings Beating was an interesting dive into the world of falconry that sets up a sequel with a lot of promise. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes adventure stories with a touch of the fantastical. 3 stars – I liked it!
Thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Black Wings Beating will be available for purchase on 25 September, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Moonraker
Fleming, Ian
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

For those of you who have seen the movie Moonraker (1979), push everything you know about this story out of your head. About the only things that the film has in common with the book are the main character, villain, and an enormous rocket. While the film tried to capitalize on the sci-fi that was popular at the time, the original book takes a look at the threat introduced in World War II by the Germans: ballistic missiles. For its time, the book was relevant in a world that hadn’t even been to space yet.

Having now read a handful of the James Bond books, my problem with this book stems from how formulaic it was. Only three books in, and it felt like Ian Fleming was recycling content and would continue to for books to come (like in Goldfinger ). I mean, never before has a game of bridge been so exciting, but using card games as exposition to introduce the villain already seems done to death at this point. From here, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump through the sexual tension with a female counterpart, the villain’s monologue, and the eventual foiling of plans by Bond.

While I did appreciate the slight twist in the ending with Gala Brand, it seemed slightly out of character based on how she acted previously in the story. Perhaps this was because the narrator is practically half-inside Bond’s head, but it still felt a little misleading. While the conclusion of the villain’s plot was exciting, the comic nature of the comeuppance almost had an eye-rolling chuckle tied to it as well. In the end, Moonraker is a James Bond story, so it delivers on all the tropes and clichés of the series. If you like the series, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.

The standard Bond formula in yet another book, I give Moonraker 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Twain, Mark
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

The classic tale "Huckleberry Finn" is about a young boy and his adventures with a slave named Jim amidst war and racism. I hated this book for two reasons. Firstly, the plot doesn't seem to go anywhere. It seemed that Finn and Jim just wandered aimlessly around, befriending unlikable people and getting into trouble. Secondly, Finn was a very unlikeable protagonist. He doesn't show any sort of compassion or kindness towards anyone -- and doesn't seem to care if his friend Jim lives or dies. It is difficult to root for and follow a hero that you hate. While I personally did not enjoy this book, don't let that stop you. I know many people who really enjoyed "Huckleberry Finn" -- I was just not one of them. But, if you are someone who likes a strong plot and a fairly likable hero, this one is not for you.

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Book Review: Brave New World
Huxley, Aldous
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One of the first dystopian novels, Brave New World follows an outsider as he tries to navigate the workings of a society that has been developed into a utopia by using conditioning and genetic modification. Originally excited to visit this 'brave new world', Savage becomes increasingly distraught by the lack of humanity exhibited by its inhabitants.

I liked this book better than 1984, mostly because 1984 had some 'preachy' sections and this one had fewer and had a more interesting plot line to me. While 1984 was violent, Brave New World was promiscuous. Both books eschewed solitude for constant interaction, 1984 being involuntary, Brave New World, voluntary. Both books are worth reading.

One reason Brave New World is fascinating is because of the way they control the birth and childhood of the population by conditioning and genetics. Copulation is as common as a handshake and soma restores all to rights. All this was written in the 30s! Aldous Huxley is the man!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book "Wonder" is about a boy with face abnormalities named August who goes to public school for the first time as a middle school student. While going to school he makes friends, enemies, and faces hardships most students don't face. The source of his bullying throughout the year is Julian. Auggie deals with Julian and his gang with his own new friends until something unexpected happens.

I picked this book because the description seemed interesting and "Wonder" is a battle book. I enjoyed the deep meaningful lesson that the book teaches. There is actually not a part I did not enjoy. "Wonder" was not at all predictable. I could relate to August because likes Star Wars and I do too. It is one of the best books I have read this year. I highly recommend reading "Wonder" for a heartwarming story with many ups and downs.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Genres:
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
Riordan, Rick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The start of a fantastic series. I compare it to Harry Potter with it's likable characters, journeys, and magic. In this universe all the Greek gods and stories are real. If you like fantasy you will most likely love this book. It focuses around the main character Percy and his journey when he learns he is a demi-god. He goes on a journey meeting other demi-gods like Annabeth. Another friend he makes is Grover a half goat, half man satire. Percy must stop a war between the powerful Greek gods before it too late.

Reviewer's Name: Amelia W.
Genres:
Rise of the Evening Star
Mull, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Well, we're back to join Seth and Kendra on another adventure as they search for the hidden artifact at Fablehaven! I enjoyed this book more than first one to be honest. It has plenty of cliffhangers and exciting moments. You'll love it if you love Harry Potter!

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey
Genres:
Fablehaven
Mull, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is definitely one of my favorite book series. I was in a phase where I would only read Harry Potter (they're so good tho!) and I had read the Harry Potter series 7 times because I didn't want to read anything else until I received this book for my birthday this year. Its an exciting adventure and if you like fantasy, action, and adventure then this is a series for you! After reading the first book of the series, you will want to move on to reading the next book in the series (Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star). Have fun joining Seth and Kendra in this amazing book!

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey S.
Awards:
Genres:
The Wizards of Once
Cowell, Cressida
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Wizards of Once" follows the story of a young wizard and a young warrior princess in a world where magic is forbidden -- and a great adventure ensues. I loved this book. Cressida Cowell's writing style is delightfully charming and lighthearted. Xar and Wish were wonderful protagonists that you could easily root for. This story pulls you in from the very first page and takes you off on an amazing journey. The only negative thing I can think of to add is that sometimes the descriptions got a little lengthy -- but, for those who love well-described settings and characters, this will only add to the charm. I also highly recommend the audiobook, narrated by David Tennant, that was equally delightful. If I could give this book more stars, I definitely would!

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Genres:

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