Mystery

Book Review: Hallowe'en Party

Author
Christie, Agatha
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

Agatha Christie is an author you can rarely go wrong with, and Hallowe'en Party is no exception. The book is another Hercule Poirot mystery. In this one, his friend Ariadne Oliver attends a Halloween party where a girl named Joyce claims that she once saw a murder. Later in the night the girl is found drowned in the barrel of apples.

The characters are fairly standard, though they're fairly entertaining. The dynamic between Mrs. Oliver and Poirot is particularly charming. The dead characters and the eventual murderer are also given some degree of depth. Other than that, the characters are serviceable but shallow.

The plot mostly consists of Poirot speaking to the various suspects and witnesses. It drags a bit at points, but quickly picks up. The twists are all well built up, and nothing feels like it comes out of nowhere. All the pieces fall together in a satisfying way.

This book is also sold as "A Haunting in Venice". This is because the new Hercule Poirot movie is loosely based on this story. However, the key word is loosely. So, if you watched the movie first, be aware that these two stories have almost nothing in common (aside from the main character).

I would recommend this book to fans of Agatha Christie and mystery fans in general.

Reviewer's Name
Rose

Book Review: Where The Forest Meets the Stars

Author
Vanderah, Glendy
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

"Where the Forest Meets the Stars" by Glendy Vanderah is a mesmerizing blend of heart-wrenching reality and whimsical fantasy that left me utterly captivated. Set against the backdrop of a serene forest, the story weaves a tale of grief, healing, and unexpected connections that transcend the ordinary. The characters, Joanna, Ursa, and Gabriel, form an unlikely trio whose interactions are enchanting. As they unravel the mysteries of the stars and confront their own inner demons, the line between reality and fantasy blurs beautifully, inviting readers into a world where anything seems possible. The author's prose is both lyrical and evocative, painting vivid scenes that linger in the mind long after the final page. With its rich narrative and emotionally resonant themes, "Where the Forest Meets the Stars" is a masterpiece that reminds us of the magic inherent in everyday life. It's a book that stays with you, stirring your soul and igniting your imagination with every turn of the page.

Reviewer's Name
Caroline

Book Review: Storm

Author
MacHale, D.J.
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

This book is the second book of an awesome post-apocalyptic trilogy that I read last summer. The book takes place after the protagonist, Tucker Pierce and his associates escape Pemberwick island. They found the need to escape after an assumed military branch (SYLO) took control of the island because of sickness. When they reach the mainland, they discover that no one is left. As if things cannot get worse, they find a black UFO like plane (from the first book) and discover that it bears the U.S. air force logo. Because SYLO seeks to destroy these planes, they conclude that a second civil war could be under way.

After this discovery, Tucker and his friends set out on a cross country quest for vengeance, and to find out what happened to the entire country, one death defying event after another.

Reviewer's Name
Zachary

Book Review: Flowers in the Attic

Author
Andrew, V.C.
Rating
2 stars = Meh
Review

Flowers in the Attic is about the horrible life of four siblings. Before their lives were turned upside down, their father provided for them, but when he died, the mother decided to take herself and four children to her parents house. The mother was exiled by her parents for her marriage to her husband, so going to her parents for help was her last resort. When arriving at her parents house, the mother decides to hide away her children to gain back her dying fathers favor to inherit his fortune. Until the grandfather dies, the four children will be locked away in the attic and hidden from the world. This story is told through the oldest daughter Cathy’s perspective, and follows her journey with her three other siblings while living in their grandparents' attic. This was a very depressing and disturbing book with a lot of twists and turns nobody would have seen coming. If you like sad stories that do not leave your mind easily, this is the perfect book for you! Personally, I do not recommend this book if you are not prepared for a very disturbing story.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Isabel

Book Review: SYLO

Author
MacHale, D.J.
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

This is the first book of an awesome Apocalyptic trilogy. This book starts out with a high school football player named Tucker Pierce, who lives a quiet life on Pemberwick Island,Maine. He is also perfectly fine being the backup for a kid named Marty on the team. As a game goes on, Marty seems to be having the best game of his life, when he scores a touchdown and just drops dead. The narrator describes the whole story in past tense, and describes that as "the first death". This is the start of a "real page turner" of a story. As that week goes on, Tucker and his friends (Quinn and Tori) find out that a U.S. military branch invades his island.This story goes on to describe how The trio find out what the heck is going on, and in three books! It is a very good book, and I strongly recommend it. Just don't read it if you do not have access to the other books, because you have to read the whole series.

Reviewer's Name
Zachary

I Am Not Okay With This

Image
I Am Not Okay With This
Author
Forsman, Charles
Rating
2 stars = Meh
Review

I'm open to a lot of visual styles for graphic novels. It can be what elevates a mediocre story to something profound, but it can also tonally clash with the message and leave a muddled mess. Storytelling in this format is a challenge to pull off and few have been able to do so successfully. I Am Not Okay With This unfortunately falls into the other camp here. Even if this were just a novel without the "graphic" part, there's not much to recommend it.

Filled with cliches about what it's like to be a teenage girl, I Am Not Okay With This suffers from the "men writing women" trope. None of the interactions felt believable or realistic. Instead, they seemed forced through what a man thought these interactions should be based on minimal or merely pop culture research. None of it had the feel of anyone who has lived as a teenage girl in similar situations—psychic powers notwithstanding. This was why it leaned so heavily on the tropes commonly associated with girls in puberty and the male fetishes that go along with it.

I wasn't sure if this was trying to be edgy by focusing only on heavy subjects like sexuality, bullying, and suicide, but the simplistic art style felt too childish to accomplish any of these goals with any level of gravitas. There wasn't even a satisfying conclusion to anything, which would only be frustrating if this book wasn't such a quick read. I'm sure it's less of a time commitment than watching the Netflix show, but I still probably wouldn't recommend it (even if I haven't seen the Netflix show to compare against).

A mismatched graphic novel obviously written by a man, I give I Am Not Okay With This 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name
Benjamin W.

The It Girl

Image
The It Girl
Author
Ware, Ruth
Rating
1 star = Yuck!
Review

I love Ruth Ware but this was so disappointing I didn't even finish it, and I really tried. I was just so frustrated with the format and the characters that I no longer cared about the conclusion.
The back and forth format was really repetitive and annoying, and the characters all felt thin. The main character only had two modes, panic attack or despair, but the way it was written it was impossible to have empathy for her.
Her anxiety became very formulaic. The supporting characters were all very predictable, which is not good in a whodunit. I really hope she's back on her game with the next one as I liked every one of her books until now.

Reviewer's Name
Kristen S.
Genres

Book Review: Five Total Strangers

Author
Richards, Natalie D.
Rating
2 stars = Meh
Review

Five Total Strangers begins with our protagonist, Mira on a plane ride back home just before Christmas. There is a large winter storm approaching and all flights are cancelled, so in desperation Mira and some other college - age passengers rent a car in an attempt to reach their destinations. Woven between the main plot, we read letters sent to Mira from a mysterious person she met while in the hospital around the time of her aunt's death. The person's letters take a very... stalker-y tone... and they appear to have never reached their destination. As the story goes on, the sender grows more and more desperate alongside the distress of her party.
The story has well written language and description, and it was easy to visualize the setting and the mental state of the protagonist. However, it is supposed to be a sort of mystery? It's hinted that there is a saboteur among Mira and the four strangers, but it was fairly easy for me to figure out who it was early in the book, which made the "twist" at the end feel over dramatized and the red herrings obvious. Basically, the book tries to sell "I don't know who to trust and there's nowhere to go!"but it didn't really meet my expectations. The main character Mira has no real agency, which makes sense, because she's trapped in a snowstorm, but at the same time, the book doesn't really analyze the sense of powerlessness in a situation out of your control. Mira just kind of feels uneasy and goes along with whatever the rest of the characters say, and the book doesn't really address this.
Also, the end was unrealistically soon after the climax in my opinion. After the "twist," the rescue came so quick that it made me wonder, "why could this not happen sooner?..." It just felt irrational compared to the rest of the story, and this narrative whiplash lowered my opinion.
Despite my qualms with the story (it might just be over-analysis on my part) I enjoyed this book. It kept me entertained for at least a day, and the author was decent at evoking dread by constricting the escape routes of the story's environment. I'd recommend this book if you enjoy quick thrillers for a snowy day.

Reviewer's Name
Isabel

Book Review: All In

Author
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

All In is the third book in The Naturals series. It takes place in Vegas instead of Washington D.C. and is actually focusing on a main secondary character instead, Sloane. The Naturals investigate a series of murders that take place in casinos around Las Vegas and learn that they may run deeper than they thought.

I really liked this book in the series. I liked how we got a story focusing on a secondary character instead of just focusing on Cassie like in the first two books. However, this book was longer than the other books and got a little bit boring in some parts, which is why I rated it a three stars. It was a really good and interesting story though and I’m looking forward to continuing the series!

Reviewer's Name
Cara