Fiction

Book Review: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season
Author: 
Jemisin, N. K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

In the post-apocalyptic Stillness, where nothing is Still, N. K. Jemisin creates a cast of interconnected characters, an intriguing plot, and a fantasy world that masterfully entails factions, a magic system, and history that is weaved into the current time of the book. Jemisin goes through three different perspectives, but still maintains a sense of total engagement and interest for the reader. We follow the stories of these three, and with each learn how much of a curse each blessing can be. This series is very real and doesn't shy away from concepts that would be expected from societies in such a situation, but at the same time, is surprising in a number of ways. I really enjoyed this book; I gasped internally several times throughout, from plot twists, reveals, and realizations, and enjoyed almost every part of The Fifth Season.

Reviewer's Name: 
Noah

Book Review: Hounded

Hounded
Author: 
Hearne, Kevin
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Hounded is the first book in the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. The series follows Atticus O'Sullivan, the last druid on earth living in Tempe Arizona. Atticus draws his power from the earth and has many encounters with gods, deities, and monsters. The series is in 1st person, and Kevin Hearne's writing style shines through Atticus's wit and intelligence. The story is incredibly gripping, imaginative, and fresh. Every book maintains such a strong story and writing I never found difficulty imagining the scenes with great detail.

Reviewer's Name: 
Judah

Book Review: The Fourteenth Goldfish

The Fourteenth Goldfish
Author: 
Holm, Jennifer L.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Fourteenth Goldfish is about a girl whos grandfather finds a way to be young again. When Ellie's grandfather shows up at her doorstep as a teenager, her life gets crazy. Her grandfather found a cure to aging, but can't get into his lab due to the fact that he is unrecognizable. Ellie, her grandfather, and a couple of friends must get the T. Melvinus from the lab, before it is relocated to Malaysia.
This book was awesome. While it isn't a middle school level book, it is a great quick read. It is entertaining and was easy to read. Everyone should read this book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mackenzie

Book Review: Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies
Author: 
Golding, William
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

William Goldings Lord of the Flies is a classic read. It follows a group of British schoolboys stranded on an island after being shot down. Over their span on the island, with no adult supervision, the children start separating into their own groups, based on their priorities on the island, and their personalities. The entire book looks at a lot of Freudian theories, and the moral conciseness of people stripped of a society. The psychological elements involved in the book are written quite flawlessly, and there is a good balance of action, and story throughout the book. In my opinion, the book is quite unpredictable and is a very valuable read no matter the audience.

Reviewer's Name: 
Judah

Book Review: Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men
Author: 
Steinbeck, John
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is quite the definition of a classic book. The two main characters, George and Lennie wander around Soledad California in the 1930s, pursuing their dream of owning their own farm. Throughout the book, there is a lot of conflicts involving Lennie, who battles with intellectual disabilities. Of Mice and Men does a fantastic job of highlighting the ups and downs of a relationship, especially when George is left to a lot of "caretaking" roles. The book was not excessively predictable, however, this is a definite element of foreshadowing that could add predictability. The entire story involves the idea of pursuing your dreams, as well as the difficulties people ran into during the great depression, and some of the sexism, racism, and overall discrimination. I think that this is a very important topic to bring awareness to, especially during the time, and I believe that Of Mice and Men does a great job illustrating that.

Reviewer's Name: 
Judah

Book Review: The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, A Rún, Volume 1

The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, A Rún, Volume 1
Author: 
Nagame
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I started reading this book because I found the art style appealing. I continued reading because I found the storyline to be different and intriguing. The story features two main characters: Shiva and Teacher (Sensei). Teacher finds Shiva, a little girl, in the woods and cares for her as she waits for her auntie to return for her. The curse that Teacher suffers from is transmitted by skin contact, which prevents him from being able to touch Shiva and leads to interesting situations. Teacher must attempt to protect Shiva, both from the curse he bears and from outside forces that wish to bring her harm.

This book surprised me by creating a strong connection with the characters. It showed the reasoning behind the actions taken, but also revealed that unwise actions had negative consequences. Teacher's lies are intended to keep Shiva safe, but they endanger her more than he could have foreseen.

Teacher was relatable, to an extent, because it can seem appealing to conceal or lie about things in order to make people feel comfortable. However, when the truth gets out, it can damage relationships and endanger the person you were trying to protect.

The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil, A Rún Vol. 1 was one of the best books I've read all year. I would highly recommend reading it!

Reviewer's Name: 
Haven
Awards: 

Book Review: Machine

Machine
Author: 
Bear, Elizabeth
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Machine is a sci-fi space opera set in the same universe as Ancestral Night, but with completely new characters and a new writing style. It revolves around a trauma doctor, LLyn, a specialist in search and rescue. Her body has a flaw, however. She deals with nerve-drilling pain, a side-effect of living on a backwater planet with no medicine, and relies heavily on an ai-driven exo that supports her and hides her pain. When an assignment brings her to the far reaches of space, she discovers a relic of the ancient Earth. A generation ship. Sent when earth was thought to have no hope of survival, this relic has drifted across space a time, with all of its crew in cryo-sleep, and its shipmind ravaged and torn by conflicting imperatives. This book is a great read for lovers of sci-fi and mystery.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan

Book Review: Red Rising

Red Rising
Author: 
Brown, Pierce
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

4 stars(Good, but not enough conflict)
Red rising is a sci-fi book set in the far future, where caste systems are a given and the lowest caste, red, is forced to mine Mars to make way for other, higher castes. The book follows the perspective of a red, Darrow, who lives a completely familiar yet grueling life as a helldiver. As he toils in the mines and in the life of an unfortunate red, his entire life is picked up and tossed in the garbage as his wife first dies, then he is inducted into a mysterious society known as the Sons of Ares, where the truth of his former life is revealed to him. I didn't like this book because there's little to no challenge to him in the overall story, but I also find this book strangely calming. I suggest this book to anyone looking for a story of growth, strategy, friendship, and betrayal.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan

Book Review: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone
Author: 
Bardugo, Leigh
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is an amazing venture into a wonderful magical universe. I don't read a lot of fantasy, and Shadow and Bone was the perfect re-introduction to the genre. The world building is some of the most beautiful and detailed I've ever read. In this universe, magical people known as Grisha have the power to manipulate matter. Etherialki summoners can manipulate air, water, or fire. Materialki Fabrikators can manipulate materials and chemicals, and Corporalki are divided into healers and heartrenders, which have the capability to slow or speed heart rates, and are essentially the most feared Grisha.

Ravka, a country inspired by tsarist Russia, is divided in two by a swath of darkness known as the Shadow Fold, which is populated by frightening creatures known as volcra that prey on humans. The Shadow Fold and volcra have made crossing from landlocked East Ravka to the ocean ports and trade routes of West Ravka nearly impossible. The only hope to destroy the centuries-old Shadow Fold is a myth of the Sun Summoner, a Grisha with the ability to summon sunlight and destroy the darkness and the monsters.

Alina Starkov is an orphan and a mapmaker in the non-Grisha army. At the beginning of the story, she and her best friend, Mal, a tracker, are chosen for a voyage across the Shadow Fold. During the crossing, Mal is attacked by volcra and Alina reveals the ability to summon sunlight. She is the Sun Summoner, and suddenly everything in her life changes.

Alina is brought to the capital of Ravka to train as a Grisha, making the acquaintance of the Darkling, the only Grisha with the ability to summon shadow and darkness; a descendent of the one who created the Shadow Fold. The Darkling believes he and Alina have the ability together to destroy the Shadow Fold, and reunite Ravka. What follows is a wild ride full of twists and turns and beautiful magic.

This book is so addictive and page-turning that I read the last 30% in one sitting. This book is the first in Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse collection, and it does feel like a first novel. There are simple sentences and some classic YA tropes, such as a love triangle and a 'chosen one' narrative. However, despite the inclusion of YA plot staples, I have read all of those tropes boiled down to a very simple level in other books, and here I believe that Bardugo elevated them to something more. All of the characters were delightfully fascinating. There was not black-and-white, good-and-evil characters, all had some elements of good and bad in them that made them fascinating to ponder over. Alina's spunk and sarcasm added to her character wonderfully, and the Darkling's true motives and character will keep readers on their toes until the last page. In addition to Alina and the Darkling, a wonderful cast of side characters is introduced when Alina begins training with other Grisha, most notably Genya, Alina's closest Grisha friend, who is a unique Tailor who can manipulate appearances. Genya, for all her beauty she created for herself, has her own dark backstory that adds great depth to her character and the story. The logistics of Grisha power are a bit hard to understand, but as seen through Alina, who also does not really understand them either, it makes the mystery and lore around the magic system even more fascinating. Once the orders and powers of Grisha become clear in your mind, the story really takes off.

This book gets under your skin and stays with you. I found myself constantly thinking about the plot and the wonderful characters and setting that became familiar and comfortable. The best feeling when reading a series is wishing that the world of the book is the one you lived in, and I experienced a lot of that feeling while reading Shadow and Bone. I am a very analytical reader, but I did not care about the writing simplicity because this was such a good story. This book has it all-- romance, magic, a touch of a dystopian world, friendship, and fantasy. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any of those genres and someone looking for a gentle introduction into the fantasy genre-- a genre filled with so many universes and powers and creatures that it is easy to get overwhelmed finding what is really worth reading.

Shadow and Bone is a highly enjoyable book filled with great, layered characters and a delightful magical world. I look forward to reading more of Leigh Bardugo's books.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Allie

Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: 
Maniscalco, Kerri
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I absolutely loved this fast paced murder mystery! With awesome likeable characters to an exciting plot, this book has it all. A good murder mystery should always have an exciting ending, and this book did not disappoint. I was totally engrossed in this master piece from start to finish, and cannot wait to start the second one. Stalking Jack the Ripper blew away my expectations and more.
Reviewer Grade: 9.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sage

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