Adventure

Book Review: The Wild

Author
Laukkanen, Owen
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

This is the kind of book with so many cliffhangers, you can't find a stopping point. This is a book you'll want to read in one sitting but remember you have homework and have to reluctantly put it down. This is a book that makes your hands sweat and your heart beat faster. The vivid imagery and dynamic characters will make you feel as if you're there yourself. This is a book for adventurers. This is a book for the fearless. This is Underlined Paperbacks and this is The Wild.
When Dawn is sent to a wilderness boot camp for one to many bad decisions, she ends up in a situation her parents nor her ever expected. The people she meets there have bad decisions they are also living with and as the woods get darker, their pasts are revealed. Will they make it out of the camp alive? Is everyone there for the reason they claim they are?
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
McKenna

Book Review: The Old Man and the Sea

Author
Hemingway, Ernest
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The story of Win and Loss, one of Ernest Hemingway’s most famous works, The Old Man and the Sea introduces us to a fisherman Santiago. He is old, but he has determination and a goal. He wants to catch his Big Fish. He does not give up even after eighty four days of failure and on the eighty-fifth day luck finally smiles at him. Big Fish is on the hook. Three days of confrontation between the fishermen and the fish reveal Santiago’s incredible inner strength and will power. But when he finally comes back to his hut, exhausted and barely alive, he’s left only with a skeleton of his dream and a poor illusion of a better life.
The deep symbols that the story contains can be interpreted in many different ways. Some of the readers may find the old man’s hunt as a waste of effort on a goal that is not worth risking his life. Others, however, will discover Santiago as their role model and an example of undefeatable human nature and endurance on the way to the dream. But this controversy and ambiguity is exactly what makes the book so unique and attractive to the generations of readers.
The language of the novella is typical for all Hemingway's books, simple and straightforward, however, this time the symbolic meaning is hidden under the coat of realistic story. It encourages the reader to think and reflect on the pages that he’s read and on his own life as well and find his own interpretation of the fisherman’s story.

Reviewer's Name
Oleksandra

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: 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

Book Review: King of Scars

Author
Bardugo, Leigh
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country's bloody civil war -- and he intends to keep it that way. But some secrets aren't meant to stay buried -- and some wounds aren't meant to heal. This is not really a book of spills and thrills, but its biggest triumph lies in its deep undercurrents, in the attention and care that Leigh Bardugo pours into her characters -- into their failures and successes, and their responses to trauma, threats, and uncertainties. Bardugo breathes vivid life into each one of her characters, and lays their hearts open to the reader, which is easily perceived through the multiple different point-of-views. As a result, there is a devastating sense throughout that the characters are being stripped down to their essence, revealed in all of their glassy fragility and heartfelt vulnerability. Fantasy, politics, inner-demons, and romance -- all used to support this novel through character development and unexpected turns in the story. The King of Scars duology is my favorite out of the entire Grishaverse series -- combining storylines and characters from both the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. I absolutely loved this book, and would definitely recommend the series.

Reviewer's Name
Nataleigh

Book Review: Crooked Kingdom

Author
Bardugo, Leigh
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The only thing keeping this book from a full 5 stars is the fact that I'm still upset about a choice Leigh Bardugo had made in writing the end of the book. I won't spoil anything, but I will say, I have never cried harder over anything. This book opens where we left off with Wylan wearing Kuwei Yul-Bo's face, and our gang must rescue Inej, get revenge, and defeat the bad guys. But that doesn't even begin to sum up all of the action, adventure, and craziness that this novel entails. And as well as being dark and compelling, the characters and relationships we love become even more fascinating and developed. Kaz and Inej, Jesper and Wylan, and Matthias and Nina have come quite far with each other, and draw me in more and more as time goes on. This found family has been and always will be my favorite group from any novel. The ending was devastating, but it was absolutely amazing. It was the kind of ending a story like this deserves -- the kind that leaves you wanting more, but knowing that it finished in exactly the right place.

Reviewer's Name
Nataleigh

Book Review: Caraval

Author
Garber, Stephanie
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The first book in Stephanie Garber's trilogy is a fantasy story about two sisters and their adventure at a nighttime, carnivalesque game. Scarlett Dragna leaves the tiny island where her and her sister, Donatella, live with their cruel and powerful father. Their exigence for leaving was the long awaited invitation to the legendary Caraval. Only, as soon as Scarlett and her sister reach the island, her sister is kidnapped. In order to save her sister, Scarlett must win the game. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is a mere performance. Getting entangled in a game of magic, love, heartbreak, and manipulation, Scarlett must stay focused and find her sister within the five nights of the game, or Donatella will be lost forever. The less you know about the book, the better. The more confused you are, the more you will enjoy it. I sat down and read this book in a matter of a couple of hours. Plot-twist after plot-twist -- once you start to think you finally understand what is going on, Garber turns the story around and confuses you once again. This is a story I will never forget reading, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy with a bit of mystery.
Reviewer's Grade: 11th

Reviewer's Name
Nataleigh

Book Review: The School for Good & Evil

Author
Chainani, Soman
Rating
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

Book Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Author
Lewis, C.S.
Rating
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