All Book Reviews

The Stranger
Camus, Albert
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Albert Camus was a French philosopher and author who gave rise to the idea known as absurdism, the idea that humans live in a meaningless, chaotic universe. His novel, The Stranger, reflects this idea quite well. The novel is about a man named Mersault who, after his mother's death, murders an Arabic man on a beach and is sentenced to death.

Throughout the novel, Mersault is quite passive to the things around him; to his mother's death, to him shooting the Arab, and to his death sentence. This suggests the idea of absurdism: why should he protest to what is happening when he will one day die? While I like the message and the ideas the book puts forward, the writing can be a big lackluster. For example, the first half of the the novel is quite boring and moves at a snail's pace, which made it hard for me to remain interested. Thankfully, the book is quite short so it's not that big of an issue. I would recommend this novel to fans of philosophy or like novels about existentialism.

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

Brandon Sanderson has done it again. The first two novels in this series were already amazing in their own right, but the finale novel of the trilogy is by far the best. The story has once again been improved, with Vin and the crew battling against a literal god, Ruin, who hears and sees everything they do or say. If they do not conquer over him, he will destroy the world. Aside from the main, overarching plot, there are also several smaller side plots that are all intriguing and exciting. Along the way there are several plot twists and epic moments that keep the reader guessing and hungry for more.

The ending of the novel is quite sad, but provides a satisfying conclusion to one of the best fantasy trilogies ever. I would recommend this to anyone who has read the first two novels.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
Genres:
Well of Ascension
Sanderson, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Where Mistborn told a tale of political intrigue, revolution and overthrowing a dictator, the second novel in the Mistborn series, The Well of Ascension, builds upon an already enthralling first book. This novel supplies the reader with a bigger, more intriguing, more grandiose story, more suspense, and more action than before. Brandon Sanderson has done an incredible job with fleshing out each character in a unique way, and creating an amazing story. The story itself follows Vin, Elend, and the rest of their crew as they attempt to find the Well of Ascension, which is said holds the power required to stop the world from being destroyed. The ending this book builds up to is truly unexpected, and was a brilliant plot twist by Sanderson. I would highly recommend this book if you have read Mistborn.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
Genres:
At the Mountains of Madness
Lovecraft, H. P.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

H.P. Lovecraft is commonly known as one of the titans of horror, one of the pioneers of the genre who influenced people such as Stephen King, and has even inspired several video games, such as Bloodborne. At the Mountains of Madness is considered Lovecraft's magnum opus, his best work to date. It is a novella telling the story of a small group of geologists, aviators, and explorers who travel to Antarctica in search of unique rock specimens. While there, however, they encounter several horrors, including unearthing ancient specimens known as Old Ones, a decadent, purely weird city built by the Old Ones themselves, and even giant albino penguins. This novella is truly horrifying, as the suspense Lovecraft is able to build through usage of the setting is gripping. If one is looking to begin reading Lovecraft books, this one is a great entry point, as it introduces the reader to the Old Ones, the Necronomicon, and even Cthulhu himself. I would recommend to anyone who loves horror novels, or anyone who wants to read Lovecraft.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Windfall
Smith, Jennifer E.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Windfall" of Jennifer E. Smith, a beautiful story of love and wonder, shows that one million dollars can not always buy happiness. I loved how easy this book was to read--it had a quick rhythm and flow that made it nearly impossible to put down. Though I found this book to be predictable, I loved the writing and plot of this story. Though I knew what was going to happen, Smith's writing made it worth it to read cover to cover. I also liked the theme of this story: kindness. It also made clear the many emotions and events that would occur in real life in this situation, making this story feel like it did happen in real life. If you like happy endings, love stories, and seeing life from a new and engaging perspective, then this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Love and Gelato
Welch, Jenna Evans
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"Love and Gelato" of Jenna Evans Welch, and inspiring story of love and question, shows that life is a puzzle waiting to be solved. Though I don't usually like romance and "lovey dovey" reads, I really liked "Love and Gelato". It was written with a purpose and kept me engaged from the first page to the last. I loved how I felt like I was strolling through cobblestone paths of Italy along with the characters of this story. I also enjoyed how this story was not only about finding who the characters were and discovering love among the others, but learning about the culture and environment of a whole new country. If you like happy endings, romance, and stories that are hard to put down, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
As You Wish
Sedoti, Chelsea
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"As You Wish" of Chelsea Sedoti, an interesting story of fantasy and myth, shows that wants can shadow what is truly important. The way Sedoti wrote this story is both engaging and interesting. On the surface, it seems cliche and boring, but the pages hold so much depth and wonder it makes the book nearly impossible to put down. I love how this book makes you feel like you are walking and breathing with the characters written in ink. This book is interesting and makes you think. If you love parallel universes, mysteries, and wonder, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Fangirl
Rowell, Rainbow
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Fangirl" of Rainbow Rowell, a beautiful story of love and finding yourself, shows that often times things are not always as they seem. This book is a page-turner; the way Rowell writes flows easily and you can tell her words hold meaning. This book is told from the perspective of an anxious college freshman, making many readers (like myself) connect due to relating to the feeling of new surroundings and people. However, I not only liked this book because of the instant connection, but the way the plot was so interesting and engaging. This book does include some older topics, so it may be inappropriate for younger audiences. If you like happy endings, "Eleanor and Park" or more by this author, or a well written and attention-grabbing read, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
The Haters
Andrews, Jesse
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"The Haters" of Jesse Andrews, a down-to-earth novel about lust and dreams, depicts that life does not always go as planned. This book is by the author who also wrote "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl". "The Haters" is a book about two best friends who sneak away from band camp with a girl they met there. This book is both immature and wise... it has a moral and lessons throughout, but the way this story is written lightens the mood and makes it seem as if written by a teenager. I really liked how smooth and easy of a read this book is. It was clear and easy to understand, and entertaining and nearly impossible to put down. This book does include some PG-13 themes, so if you are of a younger audience, this book is not for you. However, if you liked "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" or you just want a fun and engaging read, this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Foxheart
Legrand, Claire Zollars
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In the middle grade adventure fantasy "Foxheart", a young girl and her pet dog Fox must venture out into a strange magical world to face the fearsome Wolf King, with the help of a grumpy old woman and a little boy named Sly Boots. This story was simply fantastic! Everything from the world-building to the character development was incredibly well-written. The beginning is a little slow, but once the action begins, it moves very quickly. The plot twists were completely unexpected and I was totally invested in the story.

The only negatives I may add is that some of the side-quests that were taken on the journey didn't seem particularly necessary. Some were vital to the plot, while others seemed to just sort of fill the time. Nevertheless, I was engrossed. While this book is actually geared towards middle-schoolers, I'm not sure I recommend it to someone younger than twelve, as it was pretty violent. But, if that's not a problem, then definitely pick up this amazing book ASAP!
-Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Genres:
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Animal Farm" by George Orwell is about a seemingly normal farm that turns against their farmer. The animals take over the farm with the help of their leaders who are pigs. After all the humans are gone from the farm they continue under the rule of the pigs and create a system of rules to follow as a guideline for their new life. Everything goes well until one of the pigs, Napoleon, uses the dogs he trained to remove the other leader, Snowball, from the animal farm. With Snowball gone Napoleon takes complete control of the farm. He alters the rules made by Snowball, abuses his power, and makes poor decisions that negatively affect the other animals. One of their rules/guidelines was that humans were evil and not to be associated with.

Napoleon breaks that rule many times starting with making a trade of wood with another farm run by a farmer. They get scammed from the exchange with the human, but that doesn't stop Napoleon from dealing with humans. He goes to the extent of not telling the fellow animals the truth and putting all pigs above everyone else. From there things get progressively worse until Napoleon eventually befriends the humans along with the other pigs. They become so much like the humans that it gets to the point that the pigs are basically humans.

I would recommend the book. "Animal Farm" is interesting and in my opinion is in a sense satire, so I really enjoyed it. I read this book because I was planning on reading 1984 by the same author for a BTS theory and wanted to read other books by George Orwell. I kind of could relate to some of the animals because when they disagreed with Napoleon they brought up good points, but no one listened to them. The ending is very surprising and the book isn't predictable.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Ink and Ashes
Maetani, Valynne E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I love this book! I am in 7th grade and this book gave me goosebumps and look behind me when I'm turned around in fear of the "evil" characters in this book. (Granted, I get scared very easily). Ink and Ashes tells the story of teenage girl Claire Takata, and her horrifying experience that was brought upon her by her dead father's passing and his sketchy life. This story perfectly blends mystery and Japanese culture, and is one of the most unique mystery books I have ever read. I highly recommend this book for mature middle school readers who don't read much mystery and want to "test the waters". However, all kinds of readers from 6th grade and up would enjoy this book! Don't hesitate to try it out!

Reviewer's Name: Anna C.
Awards:
Wild Beauty
McLemore, Anna-Marie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book Wild Beauty is a vibrant tale of the cursed Nomeolvides women who are able to grow plants using magic. Their curse is that they are unable to leave their home at La Pradera without dying. This book is a wonderful exploration of love, family, life, and lies. Wild Beauty includes exploration into sexuality and the bonds we share with our family. Wild Beauty is one of the best books I've read in a long time because of it's depth and true dive into the human soul. This book is great for readers who want to pick up a book for a colourful story and not have it continued in a series (I personally have gotten tired of every book being a series).

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Awards:
Daughter of the Pirate King
Levenseller, Tricia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book Daughter of the Pirate King is a thrilling story about a pirate princess who is captured by an enemy ship on a mission for her father. This story follows Alosa and her mission to retrieve part of the map to the island of the Sirens. I really enjoyed this book for it's humour and wit, along with the progressive plot that kept the story flowing. This book keeps you guessing for answers as it alludes to many things you might be able to figure out if you read between the lines. I appreciated the complexities of this book and cannot wait to read the sequel. I would highly suggest this book to readers who love action and humour.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Little Women
Alcott, Louisa May
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Little Women is a classic piece detailing a few years in the life of the March family. It is a beloved tale and for good reasons. This book shows the true inner workings of a family during the civil war and how love is stronger than even death. I really enjoyed Little Women because it included the historical details of the time that I find interesting, such as: having home servants even when in poverty, the intricacies of the dress, and social commentary. Little Women shows the true heart of sisterhood and friendship, along with the bonds made between parents and children. Through thick and thin, the March sisters are there for each other. Truly a delightful read for anybody.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Awards:
The Nazi Hunters
Bascomb, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Adolf Eichmann, a notorious Nazi responsible for the deaths of millions of people during the holocaust, disappeared without a trace after the war ended. An Israeli group of spies, known as the Mossad, along with other key allies carefully locate and capture Eichmann in an attempt to bring him to a fair trial in front of the entire world. Several of the members of the mission survived concentration camps and nearly all of them had lost family there. Thus, they were determined to complete their mission, even if it lasted fifteen years and took them to the other side of the world. I highly recommend this non-fiction adventure to anyone interested in the holocaust or looking for great a spy thriller.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Genres:
Echo North
Meyer, Joanna Ruth
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Would you all like to know what kept me up, new years eve, until 1 am? It was not the obvious fact that it was new year’s eve, and staying up until 12am was what we are all supposed to do, right? No! It was the simple reason, that I was spellbound and entranced, by this beautiful fairy tale of a book, and could not get away until I knew what happened. This tale captivated me and wouldn’t let go. This fable is a brilliant and magical retelling of a Norwegian tale called East of the Sun West of the Moon with references to other fairytales smattered throughout including Tam Lin and Psyche.

It’s basic premise is that one day after her father leaves town and mysteriously disappears, Echo Alkaev goes to look for him. She finds him on the brink of death. In order to save him she is sucked into a deal, by the same talking white wolf which disfigured her face and whom, she saved years before. A deal that will define and change the rest of her life. Live with me for a year in my enchanted house under the mountain, and I will save your father. There is only one rule, you cannot look upon me at night. Desperate and scared, and propelled by the mystery surrounding him, she does as she is asked.

She is soon launched into a magical world she never knew existed. With an enchanted house; in each room a different magical wonder, woven together like a tapestry; a magical library, with books explored through mirrors that one could travel into and experience, the four winds, a witch, a goddess and, a dreadful curse; Echo finds this world, on the edge of magic itself, dark, mysterious, lonely, full of peril, and wonder, and fantastical beyond belief. But more importantly, she finds a resiliency and strength in herself she never knew she possessed, the capacity to love beyond belief, and the courage to do what’s right even in the most dangerous of circumstances.

This book is filled with so many layers, it’s impossible to describe them all here, but suffice it to say, that if you let it, this story will weave itself into an incredible tapestry around you. It’s filled with so many different worlds that I just wanted to dive into and stay there forever. It’s filled with likable and relateablecharacters that felt like friends. Hal, the love interest, the tortured and lonely white wolf, Echo, the heroine, and so many lovable side characters, I can’t choose. It’s filled with vivid prose and world building and just so much goodness, and magic, and love, I just can’t even….

All I can say is pick up this book when it comes out. If you love fairy tales, and magic and heart felt story telling that will get you lost in worlds you don’t want to leave, and heart wrenching secrets that will make you happy and sad all at the same time. Than do yourself a favor and pick up this wonderful, fable! Total5 star read for me all the way! Thank you to Netgalley and Page Street Publishing for a Digital Review Copy for review. This comes out January 15 but you can pre order it, or put it on hold at your local library today!

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie
Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia
Sanderson, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

You know, it’s difficult to review a book that already highlights its flaws in the text itself. Part of me wonders if the reviews from the second book in the series were bad enough to warrant this kind of meta self-awareness. In the end, while Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia does take the time to address these weaknesses in its story and characters, it still doesn’t excuse the fact that they’re in there in the first place. These winking soliloquies seem to gloss over the fact that the book knows what’s wrong with it, but instead decides to gloss over it with self-reference instead of fixing the root of the problems themselves.

By this point in the series, I have come to terms with its middle-grade silliness and occasional bathroom humor. I loved the rule-breaking first book in the series, only to become annoyed by this constant fourth-wall breaking that happened in book two. By book three—this book—I finally came to terms with the fact that I’m not the target audience for this book, despite how well-written it is and how intricately its fantasy world has been created.

Perhaps due to my acceptance of this series for what it is, I felt the plot and character development were better in this part of the series—even if it did seem to trend toward “after school special” territory more often than not. Not only did we get to see more of Alcatraz’s parents (although, not nearly enough in my opinion), there was a lot more world-building that helped to flesh out this strange land introduced in previous volumes. Plus, the character who was a former librarian was (and is) probably my favorite character in the series right now.

More of the same self-aware silliness from Brandon Sanderson, I give Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Covered in Water
Lawrence, Ellen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you’re looking for a good introduction to the study of water, this may
be the book for you. You’ll learn about the water on earth – salt &
fresh. You’ll learn where our water comes from and why it’s limited, how
rivers are formed, and frozen water. You’ll also learn about the water
cycle. Try the experiment at the end of the book and resolve to use water
wisely.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Over on the Farm
Berkes, Marianne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Over on the Farm can be sung to the traditional tune “Over in the
Meadow.” Through it, children can learn language, counting, and movement.
The activities at the end of the book help children interact with the farm
in a variety of ways. Information provided teaches about the various animals
mentioned.

Reviewer's Name: Carol

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