All Book Reviews

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Lewis, C. S.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I first read this book when I was much younger and have read it many times since then, yet not in recent years. I just finished reading it once again about a month ago. Just like when I read the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for the very first time there was so much magic and wonder that engulfed me once more, and will again many times more.
It begins during the Blitz in 1940 with a family of four kids, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. They, like many other children during this time, go to the countryside of England to escape the war and be safe. Yet their time in the countryside will be much different than any of the other children’s. They arrive at this mansion owned by a professor, who has a housekeeper that doesn’t want children there and makes sure that they don’t touch anything. The four children don’t want to leave their family and their home in London, but the homesickness fades away quickly once they start to have fun in the house and find a world of magic and endless possibilities. Lucy, the youngest of the four, finds a wardrobe hidden away in a spare room in the house, in it are a bunch of fur coats. She makes her way through with her eyes closed as the soft fur rubs against her cheeks when she suddenly feels something prickly and cold. She finds herself in a wood in the middle of winter and a faint light in the distance, the light coming from a singular light post in the middle of nowhere and nothing to power it. Here she meets Mr. Tumnus, a faun, who invites her for tea and cakes. She spends hours with him and learns about the land she is in, Narnia which is in a 100-year winter, and that she is the first human in this strange land in a long time, as well as that there is a witch, the White Witch, who has enslaved all of Narnia. When she returned she had been gone for hours, yet to her siblings, it was mere seconds, they didn’t believe her and when they went to check the wardrobe there was no wood. Edmund was especially mean about it but followed her in the middle of the night and found himself in the middle of the same forest she described and Edmund met the White Witch. One day all four children were rushed into the wardrobe as the housekeeper gave tours of the house since it had many relics, and they found themselves all in Narnia, not at all ready for the adventure ahead of them.
This magical place and book always make me feel like I was there with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, as they had their adventures. The magic that C. S. Lewis was able to resonate with me every day as I too looked for a magical portal to a world unknown. This book is so enveloping as you read and finish it, it stays with you for years, making you think in ways you never thought of before. This book is an amazing book for anyone looking for an amazing fantasy book or a book that every time you read it you see something new.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Margaret
The School for Good and Evil
Chainani, Soman
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

At first look, The School for Good & Evil may look like your classic and basic fantasy book with a little romance. Even though there is so much more, this book has so much depth to its plot, and just how the world is set up could be a whole book in itself. It starts in this little classic village that looks like any classic medieval village, maybe a bit more sophisticated. This village for the past 150 years has had two of their children aged around 16, boy or girl, taken from their village in the middle of the night and they are never seen again. The villagers try their hardest to stop this force that takes them, yet every year they fail. They go looking for them in the forest surrounding the village but every time someone has gone looking they go in on one side of the forest and appear out of the forest on the other side of the village. Then every year a book shows up full of stories, some including people who look like the children taken, the bookmaker then copies this book over and over to sell to everyone in the village. These stories are the classic fairy tales that everyone has heard of, as well as fairy tales we have never heard of. The village people have no clue where the children go or what happens to them except for the maybes in the books. Yet they know one thing, one child is good and one is evil.
The story starts with two girls, Sophie and Agatha, two best friends, yet opposites. Sophie is your classic-looking princess who has flawless skin, long golden blonde hair, beautiful clothes, almost the best house in the village, and is kind to everyone. While Agatha is your classic-looking witch who dresses in all black, doesn’t care about her appearance much, lives in a graveyard, has a cat that seemed to come from hell, and her mother is the witch doctor of the village. Both the same age, everyone knew they would be taken, knowing which is good and which is evil. Sophie wanted to leave desperately and did everything she possibly could to make sure she would be taken, Agatha wanted to stay in her quaint little life and not leave the village, her mom, and her cat. When the day came that the children would be taken everyone in the village worked to blockade every window door and make sure everyone stayed inside, while everyone older lined along the forest. Sophie prepared to be taken, and Agatha prepared to save her best friend from being taken. Night fell and as it turned out both Agatha and Sophie were taken, it was not a fun ride; they were pulled through the forest, the branches ripping their skin, then flying above in the claws of some bird. The two girls then saw the castles, the school for good and evil, one castle bright and shining and the other dark and gloomy. A fog came in and the girls couldn’t see anymore, they then were both dropped first Agatha and then Sophie. Yet Sophie woke up in the swamp of the evil castle and Agatha woke up in the shining clear blue lake of the good castle, something no one anticipated.
This book was something I never expected, I thought it would just be a bunch of fluff and would be a really short, easy, and bland read. NOT AT ALL. This book changed my expectations of how books should be written. This book was like something I have never read before. The twist on how we see fairytales is insane and shows what we never would have thought happened. There are so many twists and turns that even though you know the general idea of the book, you have no clue what is going to happen on every single page. This book would be great for anyone that loves reading fairy tales, fantasy, drama, and a little bit of a dark side twist in books.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Margaret
Genres:
The Ever After
Anderson, Jodi Lynn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

An amazing and intriguing story about a girl who has lived in a town where a total of 17 people go missing in the same woods, gets lost in these same woods and has an adventure of a lifetime. This girl’s name is May Ellen Bird and she is the social outcast of the town she lives in and the town over, where she goes to school. She's considered weird for always collecting random things and always talking to her cat, Somber Kitty. While exploring her basically abandoned town she finds a letter in the crumbled and destroyed little box of a post office with her name on it, yet it was from 1951. In this letter there is a map for a lake not far from her house, yet there shouldn’t be a lake as in Briery Swamp, West Virginia has been a drought for years. She goes to look for it and sets out on a quest to find it full or not full. She finds it and falls in, after climbing out to her dismay she is now able to see ghosts. For some odd reason she decides to go back to the lake, falls in again and gets pulled to the strange world of the Ever After, where the story really starts to unfold with twists and turns, ghosts, and other things most people would be terrified of seeing.
This book is definitely different from your regular fantasy book, as it ties in slight horror. I won’t lie when I had my suspicions about this book when I first read it, but they were in fact wrong as this book sucked me in and captivated me with the depth and descriptive story. There is so much character development for all of the main characters and even the side characters as well, which is rare in most books, and there is so much description for every single little thing that you really get to know everything and everybody that you encounter throughout this book. I absolutely loved reading this book and I think many others would as well if you are looking for a slightly horrific book with adventure, friendship, and hardship along the way.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Margaret
Genres:
You'll Be the Death of Me
McManus, Karen M.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was so well written! Ivy, Mateo, and Cal all used to be friends in middle school but then grew apart. Ivy was having a bad day because she didn’t get class president, Booney did. She ends up running into her two old friends in the school parking lot and then decided to skip school. Little do they know they will be witnesses of Booney’s murder. The three have a day full of crazy events from being suspects of murder to being kidnapped. I really enjoyed this book. There were so many twists and turns that made it hard for you to know who did it. The suspense made you want to never put the book down. I really liked how this book was not predictable it kept you guessing all the way to the end. I would definitely recommend it.
11th grade

Reviewer's Name: Megan
The Summer I Turned Pretty
Han, Jenny
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This was so cute and comforting. I could relate to the main character Belly in many ways which made this book really enjoyable to read. The summer I turned pretty made me laugh, cry, and even made me frustrated at times. I usually don’t like reading books with love triangles but this one was an exception. I love the way Jenny Han wrote it. She keeps you guessing. At some points in the book I thought it would be Conrad and others I thought it was Jeremiah. This book was really sad at some points with Susanna having cancer and belly not knowing. It just added to the emotion of the story. Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and I’m really excited to find out what happens next in book!
11th grade

Reviewer's Name: Megan
Awards:
Roller Girl
Jamieson, Victoria
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This graphic novel has lovely art and an even better storyline. Astrid is a middle-schooler who has a tough time doing roller derby without knowing anyone on the team. She has to learn how to hold her own and find her place doing a sport she loves. I liked how the author depicted Astrid's friendship with Nicole and they were able to learn from each other despite not being on the same path anymore. It was also cool to see Astrid's character development as she gained confidence and found her identity. The dedication it took to do that is a great lesson for anyone!
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
To Kill a Kingdom
Christo, Alexandra
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I really liked To Kill A Kingdom because it appealed to both romance and fantasy genres. This Little Mermaid retelling combined with the plot of The Siren by Kiera Cass is adventurous and exciting. The main characters, Lira and Elian, are both cutthroat and unapologetic, which makes for a fun read when they interact. Although I wish they each had a little more distinct passions and slightly wittier banter, the ending was cool and the complicated treasure hunt leading up to it was cool as well. I would recommend it if you like the other stories mentioned above, and fantasy books in general.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
The Illustrated Feminist: 100 Years of Suffrage, Strength, and Sisterhood in America
Lewis, Aura
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is a great book to learn more about important female figures in America if you don't have time to read long biographies. The book is organized into decades, with an informative page for each individual. The illustrations are colorful and compliment the writing well. The book discusses significant milestone's in women's history as well as the drawbacks. It draws attention to privilege and the need for even more progress, particularly in the workforce. Try this book if you are interested in feminism and its values!
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
The Silent Patient
Michaelides, Alex
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This eerie thriller was interesting, and I could have never guessed the plot twist! The Silent Patient follows a psychotherapist named Theo who is intrigued by patient Alicia's story of murdering her husband without warning or motive. She becomes mute and is resistant to talk about what happened that night, but Theo is determined to change that. Each chapter was engaging and added to the mystery of what led to the murder. Plus, the setting of a psychiatric hospital added to the grim and suspenseful tone of the book. By the very end, I was a bit confused by the plot twist because once it was revealed, it seemed like the characters totally changed personalities. Nevertheless, it was still a great book.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Radio Silence
Oseman, Alice
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If I had to convince you to read this book in one sentence it would be this. Multiple times I had to stop reading, set down my book, and contemplate if Alice Oseman was in my head. If there is one thing Alice Oseman can do it is write relatable characters. This book follows Frances, a straight-A student whose heart is set on getting into Cambridge, and Aled, a quiet boy who is secretly the creator of a hit fantasy podcast. Brought together through art/media, Frances and Aled become close friends and tackle life changes, emotionally abusive people, mental health, censorship, and just being teenagers. This book perfectly describes the life of a teen going through high school and showed pure friendships based on a mutual love for something. This was extremely captivating and it helped me get out of a reading slump instantly. If you are looking for a book with characters you can relate to, diversity, true depictions of mental health, or just something exciting to read, I would recommend this over and over.
Reviewer grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Keira
Awards:
One of Us is Lying
McManus, Karen M.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Everyone contains secrets but it is about how far you are willing to bear them and how long you want to shelter them. One of Us Is Lying is the first book in the One of Us Is Lying Trilogy and a YALSA 2018 Teens' Top Ten selection. One of Us Is Lying has the perfect mix of drama, suspense, mystery, and romance, and I haven’t read anything as unique. The book is extremely well written, perfect and extraordinary with the proper balance of words to keep anyone seated in one spot for hours at a time. The novel starts with five students sent to detention with only four leaving alive. The Brain, Bronwyn, The Beauty, Addy, The Athlete, Cooper, and The Criminal, Nate, Bayview High School’s most notable hypocrites are brought down throughout the novel to a level so low. According to investigators the death of a student during detention with the other four students, The Outcast, Simon, was not an accident. The leading characters are Cooper, Addy, Bronwyn, and Nate. They are all altogether diverse in the way they behave and their personality. I found Cooper the most interesting, but Bronwyn was the most sympathetic. Addy changed throughout the story starting as a typical high school popular girl and then ending with a more refreshing style. I enjoyed how the story was put together in the first person because the perspective was constantly varying which made it altogether more interesting. It uses multiple perspectives to provide you the point of view of not one, but all four suspects in a murder mystery with their motives, but the real marvel lies within the journey and experiences of the characters. This book is much deeper than just a murder mystery, and it has much more to it in terms of character development and diversity. You witness the characters’ vulnerable lives being picked apart and their deepest secrets being spread to their peers. This book is 5 Stars and exceeded expectations. I enjoyed this book and suggest it for the next time you want to read something as unique as this.
Reviewer 8th Grade

Reviewer's Name: Anushka
Awards:
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1, Power and Responsibility
Bendis, Brian Michael
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

You may have heard of the fictional character Peter Parker, also known as Spider-Man. He was introduced in Amazing Fantasy #15, back in the 1960s. Ever since then, his story has been growing, thanks to many talented writers and artists.
But after several decades of publishing Amazing Spider-Man comic books, Marvel Comics had an idea. That idea was Ultimate Spider-Man.
This comic goes back to the early days of Peter Parker, and details how he became Spider-Man. It's masterfully written by legendary comic scribe Brian Michael Bendis.
And the artwork is phenomenal. Mark Bagley truly produced some great artwork for this series.
This volume only contains the first seven issues of this great series. I would highly recommend reading it.
Reviewer grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Camden
Awards:
Genres:
Wild Horse Country
Philipps, David
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Wild Horse Country, written by two time Pulitzer Prize winner and Colorado native David Philipps, is a masterpiece of investigative journalism. Philipps goes to every corner of the country to explore the current state of one of the final remnants of the Wild West: Mustangs. Even without a previous interest in wild horses and their current happenings, readers will be immersed in the stories of how they came to be, the people who have saved them, the people who haven't wanted them saved, and the people who have failed to do anything at all. Philipps explores the situation so fully, and immerses himself in the journey of learning, but still somehow manages to create a book that is unbiased and logical, rather than one based in the individual perspectives he sought out to chronicle in his book's pages. Each story, each piece of research and investigation, is captivating and beautifully written, but even more impressive than the stories and investigation themselves is the way the book can inspire a reader to do something. Not only within the situation of the wild horse, but in the everyday situations that surround us, Philipps inspires readers to learn.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
Genres:
A Magic Steeped in Poison
Lin, Judy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you're like me, you're a fantasy lover. If you're also like me, you've heard great things about this book. Most of them are true. A Magic Steeped in Poison is about Ning, whose sister is dying from a poison. Her last option is to compete in a tea making competition for a favor from the princess, and hope she has the cure.

Let's start with the obvious, the magic system is enchanting (pun intended). I've never seen anything quite like it, and I'd read a book just explaining exactly how everything works. Really, it's just refreshing to see a magic system that isn't 'pew pew, blast blast'. The plot is great too, and every stage of the competition brought something interesting. Ning is a pretty good protagonist, and I can't think of a time I didn't like her. Most of the characters are fairly strong, although nothing amazing. The princess is likable, but not perfect. The father has a bit of complexity. And I thought the judges were very well written. Really, I only had a few complaints.

The weakest aspect of the book is Ning's love interest. Kang is a nice enough character, but we don't know anything about him. If you've read the book, you're probably confused. After all, we know a ton about Kang's past. But that's the thing, we know about his past, not him. Can you think of a single personality trait he has? In the beginning he's super exitable (this never shows up again). Later in the book he loves history (never comes up before or again). Kang is just a generic, perfect boyfriend. There's nothing wrong with a shallow character, as long as the protagonist has some emotional distance from that character. With a love interest, the goal is to have as little emotional distance as possible. Other than that, everything is pretty solid. I would have liked to see some flashbacks with Shu (so we could get more attached), and maybe some more time with Lian.

Overall, I recommend this book, and I'm excited to read the sequel.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
Genres:
The Count of Monte Cristo
Dumas, Alexandre
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Count of Monte Cristo serves as a literary masterpiece in both its prose and its raw images of humanity. Following Edmond Dantés on a journey of injustice, desperation, vengeance, success, readers are immersed in over a thousand pages of story about morality and the human experience. Through the chronicles of Dantés, his ruses, and his eventual persona, the Count of Monte Cristo, readers are able to explore France high society during the Napoleonic Wars, but also the injustices within the lower classes, and stories from everyday life of prisoners, laborers, and those outside of the elite. At its core, it's a book of adventure and romance, but the adventure is not without purpose. The manipulation, disappointment, and pure emotion are the driving forces of each character, and what makes the book such a special read.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
The Things They Carried
O'Brien, Tim
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Things They Carried is a modern necessity. A series of stories and reflections follow the journey of a hypothetical O'Brien and his squad as they 'hump' through the mountains and forests of Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. The book plays with the ideas of reality and storytelling, and forces readers to construct a robust and complex understanding of the stories of war and the life after. At points, it becomes almost impossible to discern between reality and falsities, and the book itself is an intellectual journey. The stories tell the seemingly exciting and eventful moments of the war, but put a special emphasis on the trauma and shocking notes of the war. O'Brien contrasts each element with an essential counterpart: excitement with terror, nonfiction with fiction; storytelling with teaching. It's this contrasting of truths that makes The Things They Carried a staple on any bookshelf, and a read worthy of any audience.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
The BFG
Dahl, Roald
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The BFG is the type of book you read once and continue to read over and over again. Personally, I have read this book several times all the way from elementary school to high school, and has remained one of my favorites to this very day (for more context I first read this book in school). From the crazy word concepts to the illustrations, this book keeps you interested with every page. I recommend this book to those in grade school and above; the language is easy to read as it tells the story from the viewpoint of a young girl. There isn't much I could say I disliked about this book, the end of the story was very heartwarming while the book kept you on you're toes all throughout. Fair warning, a frequent scene in this book is giants eating children, so if you are reading this to someone younger who may be scared easily, I would take that into consideration (in clarification the scenes are NOT graphic and are kid-friendly). It was an exciting read, and the illustrations do a great job at giving your mind something to picture as you read along throughout the book. The book isn't too long itself but I feel like it suits the storyline well. I gave this book 5 stars for several reasons, but the main idea is that: it's very well written and illustrated, a good read for young ages and above, and it is genuinely a very good book.

Reviewer's Name: Ashley
Breasts and Eggs
Kawakami, Mieko
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Breasts and Eggs, lengthened from its original version, is a breakthrough piece for Mieko Kawakami, but also for the literary world. Her masterful prose is able to capture the attention of any reader, and draw anyone into the worlds she creates. The book is centered around a family of low-income Japanese women, battling their way through life and facing poverty, the image of their bodies, each other, and their desires for the future. Each conversation is written as if it's taking place in the readers' living room, and each sense is captured on every page. Kawakami works through seemingly every contemporary issue effortlessly, putting each piece into place within the story, instead of unnaturally breaking the flow of her storytelling She plays with issues of fertility through a character whose journey should, on paper, be shocking and different than anything readers have seen, but does it in a way that makes it feel real and beyond possible. The book is so fantastic that it could be read in a day if readers can't make themselves put it down, but it would be a rollercoaster of a day.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
Spy School
Gibbs, Stuart
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Where many spy novels explore the skill and expertise on display with fully trained spies, Spy School takes it back to basics. Ben Ripley, a normal middle school student, is chosen by the CIA to attend an academy for spies. Ben may not be the best spy there - or even in the top 90% - but he might be the only person who can stop a plot against the whole school.
A great novel for young readers looking for action and comedy, Spy School is a great introduction to the spy genre. Complete with interesting characters (although not without some flat characters as well), the plot moves at a quick pace while still keeping its reader engaged and excited. Although it is the first novel in a series, it works well as a standalone. However, the series has tended to improve as it has continued, maturing with its readers, so I would say continuing to read the series is worth your while.
If you're looking for a thriller for young readers, Spy School is the book for you!

Reviewer's Name: Locke
Genres:
Crime and Punishment
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Crime and Punishment is a novel like no other. Set in Russia in the mid-1800s, Crime and Punishment watches the mental anguish suffered by a poor man forced to turn to murder in order to survive. The work has been cemented as one of the greatest pieces of psychological writing of all time and for good reason. Raskolnikov is a deeply tortured protagonist, and Dostoevsky brutally captures his emotions, fears, and motivations throughout the novel. As other characters with conflicting motivations threaten Raskolnikov's plans and schemes, his stress only becomes more powerful.
Crime and Punishment is not an easy novel by any means. The writing style is fairly archaic, and conversations can run on for what feels like forever. However, the story is so well thought out and executed that it deserves a read from anyone interested in psychology, literature, or even acting (the story serves as an excellent example of a character study from which one can take notes). Do not expect light reading or a feel-good story, as this book will take the reader into the desperation and pain experienced by the protagonist.
Crime and Punishment is one of the best novels of all time, and although it is a challenge to read, it is absolutely worth it for its views on society and man's mental state. If this review has sounded interesting to you, do yourself a favor and check it out today.

Reviewer's Name: Locke
Genres: