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All Book Reviews

Paper Towns
Green, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The novel “Paper Towns” by John Green is an amazing journey that takes a boy named Quentin to places he never thought he’d be. It starts off with a girl named Margo sneaking into his room to then convince him to sneak out with her. They have an amazing night full of adrenaline. Margo made Quentin step out of his comfort zone and see a whole new world. But the next morning when Quentin wakes up, Margo is gone. She goes missing for weeks, and no one knows why. Quentin then starts finding clues left by Margo which starts his adventure to find the mysterious Margo. I enjoyed this book because something interesting happened every chapter and I couldn’t put the book down. This book is also about people in high school, so I can relate to it. This book is a drama/mystery novel which makes it very intriguing. This book was not very predictable, it tends to leave you in edge. I’d recommend it to someone who like to read high school stories. I also watched the movie before reading this and still loved the book!
Reviewer grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Reaghan D.
Book Review: Wicked
Gregory Maguire
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Set in the Land of Oz with all of your favorite characters, Wicked by Gregory MaGuire is one for the books. Despite not having written the original book, McGuire is able to captivate the same feelings in his prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Instead of following around Dorthy, we get to see the intriguing side of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. The story follows her life from birth to the end of The Wizard of Oz. In the middle, we see her life and what lead her to be the way that she ended up being. Her struggles and hardships are demonstrated to the reader in almost an attempt to justify her actions. The book details her relationships and experiences with all of the people who have come into her life. The book gradually turns into a book about self-acceptance and ignorance is not always bliss, rather than just a life narrative.
Gregory MaGuire, is one of a kind. He is able to make his audience view one of the most classic books (The Wizard of Oz) in a completely new way. He stays true to the original story, yet changes the whole context that the Wicked Witch is put in. I initially picked up this book because it was recommended to me by a Broadway fanatic, and I will definitely be picking up the next few in the series very soon. The book is addicting and leaves you needing more. It is definitely one of the top three books that I have read this year.

Reviewer's Name: Emma K.
Book Review: It

It

Stephen King
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

IT, is like no other when it comes to Stephen King classics. First, with the book cultivating a generation in 1986, then another with its film adaptation in 1990, and now, in 2017, with its revival. IT is timeless for thrill seekers who enjoy reading the horror genre. Stephen King craftly draws out the story for so long while keeping the audience captivated most of the time. Like any book, IT has some lengthy parts with extra detail that you could go without, yet I feel it adds to the story and the experience of reading the book. This book is highly recommended for attentive readers who are interested in a slow suspenseful story. The tone throughout the book is tense, and always seems to be building up to something creating thrill.
I was initially drawn to this book because I adore horror movies. I thought reading a horror book would give me the same sense of adrenaline. Boy was I wrong. Reading this book was scarier than any horror movie that I have ever sat through. Something about how Stephen King gives so much detail while still somehow leaving everything to the reader’s imagination is magnificent. I started reading IT just before the new movie came out in hopes of finishing it before I went to see the film. Yet, the book is so long I didn't end up seeing the movie the month it came out.
The story takes place in a rather odd town called Derry in the 80’s. It follows a group of misfit teens who are battling their worst nightmare. Their character development and growth as a child is phonomonel and continues as the characters return as adults to once again battle IT. The story takes place in two different time periods with the same characters and jumps between the two respectively. For me, however, it did get confusing at times, trying to keep track of if the characters were adults or teens while picking up where I left off. Other than that the book is consistent and addictive and I would highly recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Emma K.
Genres:
Book Review: Dating Game
Danielle Steel
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This novel is about forty-six year old, Paris after her husband ups and leaves her one day for a younger woman. Paris’ identify as a wife and mother is quickly shattered. Her youngest leaves for collage and she is left with nothing but grief. She slowly progresses to developing a new life and self understanding. I will start off by saying that this is a book I picked up for 99 cents in a thrift store and sat on myself until I had read all the other books I had picked up. So needless to say this wasn’t a novel I was anticipating reading. With that said I enjoyed it more than I originally thought I might. Steel has a very descriptive writing style that keeps you engaged. As a seventeen year old, it's not the most relatable book because I just haven’t had the life experiences that were so important to Paris. Due to the fact that it's a romance novel I would say its pretty predictable but it does have a good twist at the end. When I first started reading this book I didn’t really like Paris as a character as she was very unmotivated and didn’t have any anger towards her cheating husband but as the book progressed she changed a lot and grew on me. I don’t know if I would really recommend this book to anyone my age. It wasn’t bad but I've read books I liked much better. I think this book would be better enjoyed by someone a little older who could relate to the characters and Paris’ situation more.

Reviewer's Name: Olivia S.
Genres:
Book Review: Cherry
Rosin, Lindsey
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book follows a friends group of high school girls after making what they call a sex pact. They realize that they have just under a year of high school left and they want to experience something before they move on in life. In some ways this book falls into the romance category but it is not like your stereotypical romance novel. I know many people have concerns about things like this because they think it glorifies something very intimate and somewhat dirty but the way Lindsey Rosin wrote this book is very tasteful and, I would say true, to the high school experience and mind. After reading it, I would suggest that this was written to be empowering not objectifying. I really enjoyed reading it because there is a lack of media and acceptance of female sexuality specifically in the teenage years. Obviously it's not a book for everyone and if the topic makes you uncomfortable then I would suggest you find another book to read. With that said, I think it's a great book for high school age girls because not only does it talk about things lots of things not necessarily taught but it also has a lot of humor in it. In terms of vocabulary and book length it's not a hard book to read. Due to the fact that the subjects of the books are teenagers it's pretty easy to relate to the characters at my age. The overall concept of the book is very reminiscent of American Pie but it's much less vulgar. Rosin also makes sure to touch on the emotions and complications of relationships and sex. One thing I really like is that she not only included heterosexual relationships but homosexual ones as well which I believe is very relevant to our culture now. I would most definitely recommend this to any girl who is looking for a light hearted and relatable book.

Reviewer's Name: Olivia S.
Book Review: It

It

King, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This novel follows the lives of five kids in a town called Derry. They bond together over their terror of It, an evil being that has a hold of their small town. They struggle overcome It with little support or understanding from the world around them. I choose to read this book because I knew the movie was coming out but being the book freak I am, I wanted to read it before I saw the movie adaption. I have to say after seeing both the old movie, the new movie, and reading the book, that the book was the most scary of the three. King writes with zero censor and hits on topics typically labeled taboo. The thing I like most about this novel was its ability to really impact me and make my skin crawl. Since its a horror novel “creepy” or frightening things are bound to be included but for me the most alarming parts of this book were some of the more realistic events such as spouse and animal abuse. This novel was not at all predictable, you just had to keep reading to see how the story would unfold. I know most people are set off by the size of the book but I have to say I never found myself bored or thinking that the parts King wrote were irrelevant. This was the first Stephen King novel I’ve ever read but I would definitely recommend it and will be reading more of his work. Due to the fact that the story was unlike anything else I’ve ever read I would say it's one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Reviewer's Name: Olivia S.
Genres:
How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Foster, Thomas C.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Ever wonder how your English teachers and professors read literature? I don't mean how they actually read the words, but how they view and process what they read. Like when we read “ and a rainstorm appears” all we see is a rainstorm, but English teachers and professors view it as symbolism for depression, purity, or a cleansing ritual. In How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster comically and entertainingly introduces readers to literary basics that show us how to make reading more enjoyable. He explains literary trends and jokes such as how every single novel has aspects of another novel, why snow and rain aren’t just snow and rain, and why “It’s all political.” I recommend this book to those reading at a higher level; I actually read this for my AP Literature class and it’s extraordinarily funny because it makes fun of the literary norms of English teachers. Reviewer Grade = 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Awards:
Genres:
The Cruel Prince
Black, Holly
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When Jude and Taryn were seven years old, a man who wasn’t a man came to their door and killed their parents. After murdering their parents, the man who was not a man but a fairy, secreted Jude, Taryn and their sister Viv away to Faerie, where they were raised as if they were fairies themselves (nevermind the inconvenient fact that fairies hate mortals). After ten years of living with fairies, Jude wants nothing so badly as to be as beautiful, powerful and immortal. But Jude is a human, so she’s ugly and weak and mortal and has been bullied by her peers who are not her peers her whole life. So when a chance to gain power comes, Jude grasps it with both hands, not knowing that the opportunity will embroil her in the dangerous machinations of power-hungry mad fairies. But even if she had known, Jude wouldn’t have cared. Because she doesn’t just want to be a fairy. She wants to best them all.

This was one of my favorite books of the year. After a crazy fast and brutal start (the book does, in fact, start with a seven year old witnessing the brutal murder of her two parents), the book skips ahead 10 years and seriously slows down to do some worldbuilding. As I’m familiar with the typical rules surrounding the fey, I didn’t find this part to be terribly compelling, but understand why it was necessary. And to be fair, these parts are still at least somewhat interesting – Jude is constantly struggling with love and hate for her adopted father, Madoc, who did kill her parents. Her fairy schoolmates are cruel to the point of not being scared of killing Jude or her sister. There’s a bit of romance (although, as is often the case, it annoyed me). The groundwork for future court intrigue is laid.

Eventually, Jude gets recruited to be a spy for the likely heir to the throne of Faerie and the book goes from pretty good to freakin’ great. The story and character development pick up, and all of sudden it’s all evil machinations, twists, power grabs, allies-turned-enemies and enemies-turned-allies. Jude herself is a very interesting character – she’s not a nice or even necessarily good person, but you will find yourself rooting for despite her willingness to kill or do some seriously shady stuff. Actually, there isn’t one character that you would single out as being “good”, and I have to admit, I loved that. It made an already delightfully twisty read a bit twistier. The second half of the book also brings us some fresh developments on the romance horizon, and I definitely did not hate them. I can’t wait to see where that goes. I can’t wait to see where any of it goes – the ending will definitely leave you waiting for more.

If you’ve read and enjoyed any of Black’s other books, you’ll love this one. She’s known as the “Queen of Faerie” and with this book, she’s earned her title. I buy a fairly small percentage of the books I read, but
I’ll be buying this one. It was AWESOME. 5 stars.

The Cruel Prince will be available on 02 January 2018, but you can put your copy on hold today. Thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me with an advance electronic copy for review consideration.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
The Stand
King, Stephen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The book "The Stand" by Stephen King is a novel about a disease. It starts out at a gas station where the disease is first seen in the novel. This book has many different characters as it progresses. The main antagonist is the embodiment of evil. He is basically the Antichrist. Although I didn't like this book as much as some of Stephen's other works because I have a short attention span and some parts are not attention grabbing. It is still a very good book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes horror. This novel is very unpredictable which is one of the main reasons I like it as much as I do. Because there are so many characters in this book, it was very easy for me to relate to their situations.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Tabitha V.
Awards:
Lord of the Flies
Golding, William
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The book "The Lord of the Flies " is a book about a group of boys who crash land on a deserted island. The boys are from ages 5-12. This novel basically shows what would happen if children were to live without adults. The whole theme of the book is "loss of innocence/civilisation/humanity/etc." At first the children have a leader, a signal fire, a meeting place, hunting party, etc. But after they've been around each other for too long things start to escalate and all of the order/organisation is thrown away. I liked this book because there were a lot of hidden meanings to all of the objects AND the children. For example in the book there is a conch shell the boys use to call each other in for a meeting on the beach and it represents law, order, and power. Another example is the signal fire. It represents rescue. I read this book because it was required by my freshman literature and composition class. But if I didn't have to read it I would've read it on my own. Some things I liked about this book were the hidden meanings. I didn't like how some parts were very boring.
Reviewer Grade:9

Reviewer's Name: Tabitha V.
Genres:
Cell
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book "cell" by Stephen king is a book about learning to cope with the apocalypse. The apocalypse in this book is very unique and diverse from your typical zombie virus outbreak. While the main character, Clay, is out getting ice cream he watches as people answer their phones. They all start going crazy after they've answered the call, spitting out nonsense and being extremely violent towards each other. He was the only person there without a phone. Through out the story new characters are gained and then lost. I liked this book because I have a lot of trouble finding books that grab my attention. I really enjoyed reading this book, it was very action filled. There were no dull moments. I chose to read this book because of hype around the movie "It". I really liked the movie so I decided to read some of his other work. I would recommend this book to anyone who like very exciting, sad, emotional, and/or mysterious novels.
Reviewer Grade:9

Reviewer's Name: Tabitha V.
Scorched
Mancusi, Mari
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Scorched by Mari Mancusi can be summed up in one word. Meh. The story fell flat from its interesting premise. I expected a book where the main character was teetering on the edge of sanity. Someone who would snatch up a dragon egg and fight to protect it herself. But I didn't get that. I got a girl who had to be pulled and prompted by other characters. The museum scene was disappointing. I expected her to attack the boy, and run away with the egg. Instead he rescued her and she just kind of floated along with the story. It wasn't a horrible story, it had enough action and interest in it. But the characters felt flat and the main character was dependent on others.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Morgan J.
Awards:
The School for Good and Evil
Chainani, Soman
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book subverts the storybook genre. Two kids are taken every year, one good, one bad, to a storybook school. In the School of Evil, they grow up to be wicked witches and fiendish henchmen. In the School of Good, kind princesses and chivalrous princes. The story is quick and the reader is introduced to Sophie and Agatha. On the surface, it's obvious where they are going. Sophie is a beautiful blonde and Agatha's sullen demeanor does her no favors in her village. And then they were both taken. But Sophie ends up in the School of Evil and Agatha is in the School of Good. The story flips between their views, as Agatha fights to get them both home and Sophie wants to take her rightful place. It teaches that goodness isn't how a person looks, it's how they act and feel. And that friendship can be the strongest magic of all.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Morgan J.
Awards:
Genres:
Every Heart a Doorway
McGuire, Seanan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A fascinating and dark book. The premise is enjoyable. I adored the thought of a home for kids who went to other worlds. The kids could be summed up in one word: PTSD. And they were perfect, with complex backstories and hopes and dreams. The world's were even better, from the silent Hall of the Dead to the Moors, a world hovering between the lightning strike and the resurrection. I couldn't put the book down. In fact, I wish it was longer so I could spend more time in the rich world with its people. From a dapper mad scientist to a girl who ran on rainbows, they are all unique. And I love them for it. I love their interactions and their longing for the world's they had seen. The question was, who would murder to go back to the place they considered home.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Morgan J.
Genres:
Hearts in Atlantis
King, Stephen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

When I started Hearts in Atlantis, all I knew about it was that it was written by Stephen King and there was a movie of the same name that was likely based on it. As I began to read, I found myself enthralled by the coming-of-age story that presented itself. I had no idea it connected to the Dark Tower series, but that detail was almost ancillary, a neat little connection into a bigger picture. Having made it half-way through the book, I wanted to follow the main character’s development into adulthood but, then the story suddenly stopped.

Instead of following a story that had engaged me, the focus shifted to a completely different character, only loosely tied to the events in the first half of the book via one of the characters, who was now in college. Almost in a fractal fashion, this story was half as long as the first, with each successive story growing shorter and shorter, while still being connected to the first narrative in some way, no matter how loose that connection might have been. Finally, the story returns to the main character of the first section, but only stays long enough to say goodbye.

I absolutely loved the first story in this “collection,” and by its strength alone, I would recommend this to anyone. However, the second half of the book felt too disjointed to be interesting, especially with all the emotional energy I had invested in the first story. Sure, they were somewhat interesting in their own ways, showing the relentless march of time toward the modern era, but they simply lacked that fantastical little spark from the first story (incidentally, the same spark that was connected to the Dark Tower series).

A great story with almost unnecessary add-ons, I give Hearts in Atlantis 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
The Girl in the Tower
Arden, Katherine
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Katherine Arden's The Girl In The Tower is just as good, if not better, than the first book, The Bear and The Nightingale. Filled with more Russian Fairy tales, atmospheric literary prose, rich and strong characters, and the same enchanting setting of Medieval Russia, this book picks up right where the first one left off. It follows the story of Vasya, now a grown up woman she, instead of conforming to the role woman in her day usually play, of marriage or life in a convent, chooses instead a life of adventure. Leaving her home and traveling the vast Russian Wilderness while dressed as a boy, she soon is called upon to defend the city of Moscow and finds the threat greater and more deadly than she imagined. While fighting this threat, only she can stop, she is also forced to protect her secret as she comes upon her brother and attracts the attention of the Grand Prince of Moscow.

Part of what drew me to this book is the fairy tales, yes, but also the historical setting of Medieval Russia. Katherine Arden does a masterful job of weaving fantasy elements with real life historical details only a great historian would discover. Blurring the line between history, fantasy, and reality this book and, more importantly this series, is contemporary historical fantasy at its best. It is a sketch not only of real life in Medieval Russia, but also displays the power of story and demonstrates the importance of fairy tales and the lessons they can teach us.

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie M.
Awards:
Sing, Unburied, Sing
Ward, Jesmyn
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Jo Jo and his mother Leonie have been living on a farm in rural Missisippi for their entire lives. Jo Jo's father, Michael, has been in jail for drug related crimes, and thus most of Jo Jo and his sister Kayla's upbringing has been done by their grandparents: the gruff but ultimately loving Pop and the cancer-ridden matriarch, Mam. Everyone's world is about to be upended, though, as time grows near for Michael to get out of prison.

Writing any sort of synopsis for this book was particularly challenging, as there's not much in the way of plot. I don't mean that in a bad way. I sometimes love books that focus solely character development, and that is absolutely what this is. The writing is insanely gorgeous and it's obvious from the gruesome beginning scene as to why this won the National Book Award.

Ward manages to make almost all of the characters relatable or lovable even as they do and say and think terrible things. She absolutely captures some of the wonderfully horrible aspects of the human condition, and here is a lot to love in this book.

That being said, I did not much care for certain aspects of the audiobook. First, by the time I got the book, I had forgotten what it was actually about. I did not remember that ghosts were a part of the story and was really confused for the first part of the book (are these flashbacks? how is that character here? I thought he was dead?), but I eventually figured it out. For me, the ghosts detracted from the story and I could have done without that element, even though magical realism is often my jam. The biggest problem for me, however, was Rutina Wesley's performance (which, hilariously enough, is why I went for this in audiobook format - I liked her in the few seasons I watched of True Blood). It was over enunciated especially given that Leonie is from Mississippi, and I found her parts to be melodramatic as there were a lot of weird pauses and words said breathlessly. It just didn't work for me, and I wanted to skip all of Leonie's parts.

If you would like to read a gorgeously written character study/family drama with a compelling setting, then this is a great bet. Just read it, don't listen to it. 3 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
One Trick Pony
Hale, Nathan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In this creative, futuristic graphic novel all technology has been stolen by a species known as the Pipers. When a young girl and two of her friends stumble into a hidden cache of robots, they become the targets of a wild chase. This book is exciting, unique, and includes a battle in outerspace! Recommended for grades 3-6.

Reviewer's Name: Jenny G.
Book Review: Small Great Things
Picoult, Jodi
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Here's the problem I have with Jodi Picoult. She always does some left field plot twist at the end of her books. I find it very annoying. This book is no exception. Something completely weird happens toward the end. Otherwise I enjoyed this book. Especially the Turk chapters. Fascinating and disturbing. Some of the book was heavy handed, but it's hard for a white woman to write about race, so she has my sympathy.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
If I Stay
Forman, Gayle
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This book was very popular a few years back amongst the girls who loved romantic books. I had very high expectations for it since it had its own movie. I was let down with a sad, sappy story that barely intrigued me.
It's what you would think of when someone brings up the average young adult novel. It's the classic story of a young beautiful girl, but supposedly normal, girl who faces a challenge. Along the way, she has a love interest who is head over heels for her. In the end she faces her challenge and lives happily ever after. The book was a bit boring to read. I have read books that have made me cry with the characters, and been angry with the characters, and so on. This... was not one of those. There were many sad things that happened in this book, but the author just couldn't reach me. Overall, I give this book 2 out of 5 stars for the lack of originality and its failed attempt to try to make it sad.

Reviewer's Name: Izzy C.

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