Fantasy

Mañanaland

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 Mañanaland
Author
Muñoz Ryan, Pam
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Max’s grandfather regularly tells him fantastic tales about the ancient tower near their home and a journey to another, magical place. The stories become all too real when Max needs to help a young refugee flee from dangerous pursuers. Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan is a great read for kids ages 9 – 12 who love a good story.

Reviewer's Name
Barbara
Genres

The Atlantis Complex

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The Atlantis Complex
Author
Colfer, Eoin
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

While I have certainly enjoyed the Artemis Fowl series, I knew the time-travel plot of The Time Paradox was the writing on the wall for this teenage genius criminal. The Atlantis Complex merely enforced my opinion, as it completely removed the elements that made the titular character himself. At least in the previous book, the author contrasted the character's growth against a younger version of Artemis. Here, it just feels off. Unmemorable and going through the motions, The Atlantis Complex is underwater in more ways than one.

I get that YA series will often lean on the formulas that made them successful, but seven books into this series and it has become quite stale. Having read this book about six months before writing this review, nothing stuck with me other than the potential for an eventual development in the "relationship" between Artemis and Holly. Everything else faded into the background as just another Artemis Fowl story as the main character tries to save the day despite some odds against him. This time, the handicap was a mental illness, which modern sensibilities might see as poor taste.

Sure, introducing Orion as a different form of Artemis was an amusing way to add some humorous moments into this book that weren't caused by something to do with Mulch's body. Still, I'm glad that this series is ending in the next volume because there's only so long that this decline in quality can continue before it's just a copy-and-paste, crisis-of-the-day adventure with these same bland characters that have shown little development since book one. It was fun while it lasted, but sometimes you have to know when to say goodbye.

Another drop in quality for the Artemis Fowl series, I give The Atlantis Complex 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name
Benjamin W.
Genres

The Son of Neptune

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The Son of Neptune
Author
Riordan, Rick
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

"The Son of Neptune'' by Rick Riorden is the second book in his 'The Lost Hero' series. It is one of my favorite books I've ever read. It starts off with Percy running away from two Gorgons who he can't permanently kill, they keep coming back from the dead at faster and faster intervals. Percy has amnesia and can't remember anything but his girlfriend Annabeth, he has no idea where he is or where he is going only that he has a sort of internal gps leading him to the Roman demigod camp, Camp Jupiter. He encounters Hera in a disguised form carrying her into the camp where she reveals who she is. Percy is revealed to be the son of Neptune which is more looked down upon at the camp, during the camps war games Percy and his team (the 5th legion) surprisingly win causing Frank to be claimed by his father Mars (Frank and Hazel are Percy's friends at camp). Percy, Hazel, and Frank go on a quest to fulfill a prophecy regaining the 5th legions eagle and weapons lost in Alaska and saving Thanatos the god of death who was imprisoned by a giant working for Gaea. If Thanatos had remained chained the doors of death would have remained open allowing the dead to return from the underworld. After freeing Thanatos Percy, Frank, and Hazel rush back to camp where giants and a monster army are attacking the camp, eventually the camp defeats the army and they get a message from Leo, Jason, Pieper, and Annabeth at the Greek demigod camp, Camp Halfblood. This setting up for the future books of the series where the seven of them go on a quest to save the world from Gaea (the goddess of the Earth who had been asleep for over a millennia awaking to destroy the gods) following the prophecy of 7. This is an amazing book with excellent execution for the idea, and the book playing a major part in the story line. It is perfectly written and a great series to get kids interested in mythology both Greek and Roman. The mythology used is accurate with some of the authors interpretation put in to fit the story being told. The action throughout the book is perfect keeping the reader's attention. In my opinion it is overall an excellent book and a part of a great series.

Reviewer's Name
Audrey

Wings of Fire

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Wings of Fire
Author
Sutherland, Tui
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

This book is pretty good, the art is amazing, and the story is very fun to follow. The main point of this book, at least through my eyes is friendship. The characters are really interesting and feel very real! I rate this book 5 stars for an amazing message and great execution. (I wouldn't recommend for young kids however, it contains some graphic scenes, 10-13+ is how old I'd say you should be to read this)

Reviewer's Name
Cody

The Hobbit

Author
Tolkien, J. R. R.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

If you are looking forward to diving into the fascinating world of dwarves, wizards and elves and feel ready to fight evil wolves, man-eating trolls and a fire-breathing dragon Smaug, then The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien is definitely for you. A warm children’s fantasy novel, which, however, will captivate the hearts of many adults, takes you to the atmosphere of fairy tales that you were listening to by the fireplace as a kid.
The main character, hobbit Bilbo, at first reminds us of ourselves. He, as all the hobbits are supposed to do, loves eating good food, spending time at home and making their houses cute and cozy. However, his routine crashed as a dropped pot, when a wizard Gendalf knocked at his door. Welcoming him inside, Bilbo could not even imagine that soon he would go on a true adventure all the way to the Lonely Mountain and save an ancient treasure from the claws of a furious dragon. On his way he will meet many different creatures, make friends and enemies, defeat mountain trolls, get captured by giant spiders, get into another captivity right after that, outplay Gollum in the caves and get the magical ring. But what is more important, Bilbo will turn into a brave warrior (what a shame for the entire generations of hobbits!) and a loyal companion.
The author's writing style and original universe makes it impossible to stay indifferent to the story. Kind and soft narration wraps you as an old blanket and keeps you cozy even in the coldest evenings. Younger readers, as well as their parents, will find many life lessons on the pages of The Hobbit, such as why it is important to make smart choices, appreciate your friendships and be ready to help those who are in trouble. The book is an awesome pick for both family time and independent reading.

Reviewer's Name
Oleksandra

Book Review: We Hunt the Flame

Author
Faizal, Hafsah
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

We Hunt the Flame is about a girl named Zafira who is forced to take on the role of breadwinner after her father died. She is a strong-willed, independent character who gets dragged into a quest to find a rare item with incomparable power. While she has noble intentions, the prince, Nasir, takes on a role of assassin as he fights to find the artifact before she does. I really liked the slow-burn romance throughout the book, and how Zafira's personality doesn't change as she falls in love. Nasir's character arc is a really important lesson too, as he struggles with a need for approval from his father, and the cost of that approval. The other characters were really interesting as well. The author did a wonderful job of describing each personality, so even though there were a lot of characters, I never got confused between them. Near the end, a lot of the action did muddle what I thought would be an epic conclusion to the book, and the plot twists at the end were interesting but not necessary. It was obvious that the author wanted to set up a plot for the second book, but it felt forced. However, the characters were likeable, not predictable, so you might catch me reading the sequel!
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You

Author
Gray, Claudia
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray is a science fiction and adventure novel that anybody would love. This easy read quickly starts off with our main character, Marguerite, jumping into an alternate reality chasing her friend who killed her father. She catches him, but before he slips out of her grasp, she is conflicted with the question if he really did it or not. This book mixes physics for any math lovers, adventure for any aspiring traveler, and just a little bit of romance that makes it difficult to grasp onto what is real or fake. I would recommend this book to anybody who is in a reading slump and needs a good pick me up.
Jaala 12

Reviewer's Name
Jaala

Echo North

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Echo North
Author
Meyer, Joanna Ruth
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Echo North is such an amazing book because the little girl wanted to save her farther because she loved him very much. For her to save her farther she had to make a deal with a white wolf that she had for many years. The wolf said if she makes and deal with them it would change her life forever. The wolf said that she had to live with them in their enchanted house under the mountain and than they would save her farther. She agreed to the deal and the wolf took her to world that she never knew was there. She sees that world seems very lonely and sad but she has to be strong because she want her farther to live as long as he can. I have only read a little bit of this book and it seems like it is very funn and has some exciting parts and loving because she did that for her farther.

Reviewer's Name
Mia C.
Genres
Awards

In the Cities of Coin and Spice Orphan's Tales, Book 2

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In the Cities of Coin & Spice
Author
Catherynne M. Valente
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin & Spice is the second book in a two-book series, and the better of the pair by far. It's a deeply warm-feeling fantasy tale about a multitude of characters (which I'll discuss further in a moment), feeling 'adult' without being overly edgy or dark. In the style of 1001 Nights and similar fairytales, The Orphan's Tales is told through stories and anecdotes from almost every named character, something like a matryoshka doll in story form. This results in a cast where no one character feels sidelined or irrelevant, and in which every character is almost equally lovable-- my personal favorite is Oubliette, a huldra (which is described as being a sort of combination of a girl, a cow and a tree) who is seeking independence after being rejected and labeled wicked by her family.
As with most books, The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin & Spice is not free of problems; it uses some language that is now considered unacceptable, and there is one character who proceeds to go into a pages-long monologue largely concerning castration, but these are the only glaring issues. The prose and story structure may also confuse or overwhelm readers, but those who are prepared will likely find a great deal of enjoyment in it!

Reviewer's Name
Ori
Genres

Book Review: Caliban's War

Author
Corey, James S. A.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Caliban's War is the second book in The Expanse series. It continues with Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets with high tensions after barely avoiding interplanetary war with the destruction of Eros. When a figment of the planet-destroying protomolecule tears through some Martian marines, war once again becomes a possibility. Will a disillusioned crew, a grieving scientist, a stubborn UN officer, and a self-destructive Martian be able to find the truth, or will war and violence and alien evolution consume them all?
This book is as good as the first book. That's high praise, since the first book was very, very good. It continues the somewhat difficult experience of lots and lots of characters in lots and lots of places, but I feel like this novel was a bit easier to digest since most of the worldbuilding was out of the way. The characters also pick up smoothly from last time, with the effects of the last book's events heavily influencing them and their actions. The way they interact with this world, their situations, and each other is so organic and complex that I found it hard to feel I wasn't reading about real people. I also like how the author lets so many of her characters hate or dislike each other while still juggling all their perspectives in different chapters. It is such a treat to see through one character's eyes while they do something they think is perfectly normal and rational, then pivot to another character's point-of-view that sees the first characters actions as completely stupid. While the new cast of characters was initially overwhelming after the amount of emotional investment that was steeped into last book's characters, I found them extremely interesting and fun. They were all completely different from one another, and gave so much variety to the way we see the story. Once again, the realism of this series is striking. Even if every little political nuance isn't picked up, we can still follow the general vein of alliances and rivalries as well as we follow them in our world. It almost feels like reading a historic fiction book, with every plot point a mirror to similar groups and events in our own history. Finally, the plot of this book was very solid. There was some dragging on the beginning, and the ending wasn't nearly as climactic as the first book's, but it was still a wonderfully gripping and satisfying story.
All in all, the Expanse story remains a tour de force with Caliban's War, and I can't wait to see what the next story holds. I would recommend this to anyone who loves great sci-fi, lovable characters, and a plot that's out of this world!
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Eve