Adult Book Reviews

The Liar's Wife
Hayes, Samantha
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Liar's Wife begins as the typical waking up, going to work, and returning home without any excessive excitement. This however all changes from one accident. This nearly fatal accident leads the main character, Ella, into a situation that she cannot escape from or rather who she cannot escape from. Her past and her work colleague start to meddle in her present situation in several ways that only can be told through the pages of this book. Who is the man that claims so boldly to be her husband?

Reviewer's Name: Savanah
Venom. Vol. 5, Venom Beyond
Cates, Donny
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In Venom Vol. 5: Venom Beyond, Eddie Brick meets a few foe, Virus!
This is the fifth volume of Venom by writer Donny Cates. After the events of
Absolute Carnage and Venom Island, Eddie Brock wants to find out more about
his son Dylan's powers, so he looks to The Maker, AKA Reed Richards from the
Ultimate Universe. But when the mysterious Virus shows up, Eddie and Dylan
fall through a portal into a new world! And on this world, there are new
enemies, such as Codex! I liked this volume, and thought the alternate world
version of Annie added some interesting ideas to the story. If you liked
Absolute Carnage and Venom Island, then there is a good chance that you might
like this volume! This collected edition collects issues #26-30 of Venom, and
the Venom story from FCBD 2020. This volume deepens the Venom lore and sets
the story up for King In Black.

Reviewer's Name: Camden
The Immortal Hulk. Vol. 5, Breaker of Worlds
Ewing, Al
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In this volume of The Immortal Hulk, the battle between the Hulk and General Forteen ends! Now that Rick Jones is back, he knows where to find Shadow Base Site B, so Jones, McGee, Red Harpy and the Hulk launch an attack! One of my favorite things about this comic was Joe Bennett's artwork. While this volume is a little creepy and violent, you'll probably enjoy this volume if you are a fan of The Immortal Hulk by All Ewing. This volume, collecting issues #21-25, concludes the first half of The Immortal Hulk.

Reviewer's Name: Camden
Book Review: The Color Purple
Walker, Alice
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I loved this book. Celie, Shug, Nettie, and Sofia were such strong women, facing a hard life and rising above it. Celie in particular has cemented herself in my mind as one of the great female protagonists in all of literature. I love how she didn't let her circumstances squash her spirit. I learned so much about a wide variety of things in this book. I learned a lot about Africa in the 30s leading up to WWII and the desecration of the tribal land by the English. I learned about the treatment of African American women by African American men and about their resilience and bravery. I loved the ending. Perfect.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Brave New World
Huxley, Aldous
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is about a futuristic society that revolves around conditioned people. People are made by machines that condition them emotionally and physically for a certain job. Since people are conditioned to perform certain tasks they are happy and content. This book follows Bernard who actively questions the system and is unhappy. Throughout the book, it brings up the question of whether it is better to have an orderly and perfect society or for people to have emotions and free will. Aldous Huxley does a wonderful job of building a world where individuality is erased. The book was an interesting read and would give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Priceless : How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures
Wittman, Robert K.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Are you a fan of true crime novels? Do you just love the excitement, the suspense of solving mysteries? Or do you like art and the masters like Leonardo de Vinci? This book is for you. Well on the outside this book might just seem like another true crime story it is really different. I always liked crime novels and tv shows and I was and still am interested in the work organizations like the FBI do to prevent crime. This book has a different approach to your classic true crime novel by not just focusing on how the FBI solves murders but by focusing on how one man (the author) went undercover in the FBI to help recover some of the world's most famous stolen art pieces. It centers around his life and shows other things than just his cases, like how he was suspected of killing his friend. It also tells the story of how he founded the FBI's Art Crime Team. Well this book may not be for everyone if you like a good true crime book this book may work for you. It is slow in parts but makes up for that by telling stories that seem absurd to realize actually happened.

Reviewer's Name: Emily
The Midnight Library
Haig, Matt
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I expected this book to be decently interesting but I found that I couldn't put it down and ended up finishing it in a day. It tells the story of Nora Seed, who, after taking her own life, finds herself in the "Midnight Library," in which every book is a different life that could have been hers had she made a different decision in any given moment. She explores several of these lives, trying them out, in an attempt to find the right one that she really wants.
Nora is a relatable, three-dimensional character with an arc of development that was touching and well-done. The development of the book's themes, too, was immaculate, and they were crafted and portrayed in a way that hits the reader hard. If you're looking for a heartfelt book about self-discovery, regret, potential, and the joy of life, I would highly recommend.
Content-wise, there's the occasional swear word, and two mentions of the main character having sex, but it wasn't described and there wasn't anything graphic. I'd probably give it a 14+ age rating.
Reviewer grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
This Tender Land
Krueger, William Kent
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Orphaned and alone, Odie and his brother, Albert are sent to Lincoln Indian Training School where they spend the next four years of their lives. However, the superintendent is cruel and abusive, and after committing a grave crime, Odie is forced to run away. Together with his brother, Mose his friend, and Emmy, an orphaned girl, Odie and his newfound family take a canoe down the Minnesota River with plans to go to Saint Louis and settle down with their family. During their odyssey, the friends change in different ways as each of them grapples with their heart's truest desires.

This book is an allusion to a different popular story, and I loved the different references and allusions. The main characters are all children, but each of them brought me so much insight into the world and what it means to "find what's in your heart". The novel is also full of great surprises that kept me wanting to read even more! It's mostly an adventure novel, but there is some romance and elements of fantasy and magic, so there's a bit of everything for everyone. The ending was also beautiful, and although it was a bit sad, it was fitting.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Frankenstein: or, The modern Prometheus
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, published the year she turned 20, marks the beginning of one of the 21st Century’s favorite genres - science fiction. Written as a series of letters, the story is narrated by an explorer who encountered and rescued a scientist in the far north of Europe. He recounts an adventure told by the mysterious scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who had been fascinated by mysticism and modern science since childhood. Destroyed by grief from personal loss, Frankenstein spent his adulthood constantly occupied with experiments. The experiment that brought him near death and freezing to a stranger's ship had toyed with human life as we know it.

The book follows this experiment and Frankenstein himself as they goes through grief, excitement, devastation, apathy, loneliness, and fear. Mirroring experiences Shelley had gone through in her own devastating adolescence, Frankenstein is an achingly heartfelt book to feature such an absurdly impossible plot. This combination illustrated by such a talented author makes for an excellent book, and allows readers to experience a story that has deservedly become a hallmark of modern literature.

Note: For a book written by a woman, there are shockingly few female characters, and seemingly none with importance to the plot. But readers must remember - such gifted writers do everything for a reason. I would recommend looking into the moon as a symbol for maternity, and to the lack of female characters as an element that relates to the chaotic cycle of the story. This book is often a required part of high school curriculums, and therefore includes powerful themes that rest just behind the inherently dark storyline.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
Into the Drowning Deep
Grant, Mira
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I was viewing some of the recommended books in the PPLD website and I
found this book. The title seemed suspenseful and interesting, and it drew me
in, so I decided to read this book. It's about mysteries wanting to be
discovered and uncovered. Years ago, the "Atargatis" filmed a documentary
about bringing ancient life back and discovering mythical creatures. It was
all going fine until the crew disappeared- and what's weird is how footage of
the crew getting slaughtered by mermaids got leaked out. Because of this, the
public grew suspicious and began to wonder if this was just to mock. Because
of this, Theodore Blackwell is curious and forms a new group of people to
voyage to the Mariana Trench. Each person in the crew has their own specialty
and has their own reason of wanting to explore the same area. Along the way,
they discover that a lot of the "myths" are true while finding fheir way to
safety.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
The Girl from the Channel Islands
Lecoat, Jenny
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Hedy is a Jewish girl who went to Vienna to escape the Nazis but she unfortunately trapped herself amongst them. This time, she has no escape. Her life gets into greater and greater danger everyday. She hides with her friends and family and becomes a translator and tries whatever she could to keep herself hidden and safe. She meets a German officer who gives her sympathy and feels the position she's in. Kurt is his name, and he and Hedy start to develop feelings for each other. I feel like readers would enjoy the characters and their useful friendships in the book. Overall, this book is a little more mature because of the situation and the events, especially since it's based on true events, but it is still a great read.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
Bless Me, Ultima
Anaya, Rudolfo A.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Taking place just after World War II in New Mexico, this novel follows the coming of age of Antonio (Tony). The story is told through the perspective of adult Tony who reflects on his childhood, starting at the age of seven when an elderly curandera, Ultima, moves in with him and his family. Throughout the novel, Tony struggles with understanding his destiny, and whether he should embrace the vaqueros of his father's family or the religious farmers of his mother's. Torn between his parents' different dreams for his future, Tony forms a close bond with Ultima, who serves as his middle ground. During the course of his childhood, Ultima shows Tony how to embrace all sides of his identity to create something new.

I enjoyed this book because it covered a variety of important themes, and although it's centered around Chicano culture and literature, its message transcends cultures. Tony's story was full of heartbreak, adventure, love, and hope, and in one way or another, I found that I could relate to his story and the characters around him. The 2013 film adaption also does a good job of following the original storyline.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Awards:
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Set during the Jazz Age of the 1920s, this novel is told through the perspective of Nick Carraway, who moves to Long Island New York for work. There, Nick meets Jay Gatsby, a mysterious multi-millionaire who has an obsession to reunite with his former lover, Daisy. Throughout the course of the novel, Gatsby makes several attempts to get Daisy's attention, and with the help of Nick, the two eventually begin a secret affair. Ultimately, however, Gatsby's disillusionment with Daisy ends in tragedy.

I gave this novel a three-star rating because I felt that while the plot and storyline were interesting, it doesn't resonate with young adults so I got bored reading through it. None of the characters are likable because they all commit or help in a crime, and many of their motivations are morally corrupt. Given the time it was written, some of the characters also reflect biases held at the time, which are outdated and borderline offensive now. I did like the overall themes and message of the book, and the 2013 film adaption is the best adaption of the four.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Date
Jensen, Louise
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book consisted of several twists and turns that kept me wanting to read more. The author created a surreal feeling and connection between the reader and the main character. Throughout several chapters, the author does not want the audience to pity the main character for what she experiences. She would rather have the audience and the character go through these feelings and motions together. The climax seems as though it is in the earlier chapters of this book, but the suspense only builds from there.
Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Savanah
Man's Search for Meaning
Frankl, Viktor E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Man’s Search for Meaning gives a rare perspective on life during the Holocaust. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was forced into four different labor camps during WWII, and ultimately survived, while his family members were all slaughtered. Most books from the Holocaust are centered around horror stories from prison camps, and the sheer brutality of one of human history’s most devastating genocides. Frankl gives the psychiatrist’s view on life after camp and works to answer one essential question - how do we move on from grief? He recounts the moment he was free to leave as confusing - almost more shocking than freeing. What do you do after your entire family is killed? Where do you go after being released from a death camp hundreds of miles from home?

The book’s storytelling is devastating and beautifully crafted, and its exploration of humanity’s search for lives worth living - lives significant for the individual - has become one of America’s most influential pieces of literature. The book is heartbreaking, but so is any story worth telling. It has everything to be expected from such a terrifying chapter in our history, but what makes it so unique is the way it addresses life after the terror ends. Anyone wanting to search for meaning in their own lives, or at the very least get a new perspective on the Holocaust, needs to read this.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
A Good Man
Katz, Ani
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book was a little rough to get through at the start. However, once they reached the rising action, it was hard to put down. The word choice Ani Katz puts into each and every paragraph truly justifies the situations of this man's perspective. While reading, I felt as if I was being told a story by someone close to the main character about this man's adventures and tales. The ending of this book is sure to be remembered.
Reviewer's Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Savanah
Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe
Bryson, Bill
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Over time, I've found Bill Bryson's books are hit-or-miss for me. I enjoyed his memoir about childhood, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid , and it was A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail that introduced me to Bryson in the first place. However, since then, I've struggled to find something that's lived up to those two books. At Home: A Short History of Private Life came close, but I was really turned off by I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away. Ultimately, I hoped Neither Here Nor There would fit the bill, but it disappointed me once again.

Perhaps Bryson's travels in Europe weren't interesting to me because I haven't been over there myself. Most of the details in this book felt like they would only be understood by someone who knew what Bryson was talking about because they had experienced the same thing. I did appreciate the dueling retrospective look at Bryson's life between his younger days to when he was older and wiser, but most of the focus seemed to be on remembering when he was a young man (and all the negative foibles that come with it).

In the end, Neither Here Nor There doesn't really have anything to say. The author went to Europe and visited the same places twice. That's it. For those looking for some deep philosophical examination of Europe or a comparison of how it's better/worse when compared to the United States, you might end up being disappointed. Sure, there's some of that in here, but it's so light that it merely glances off the main plot of the literal traveling of Europe. It probably doesn't help that much of the humor in this book hasn't aged well either.

Bill Bryson's travel log from his trips to Europe, I give Neither Here Nor There 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself
Alda, Alan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After reading If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? , I decided to add some other Alan Alda books to my reading list. Months later, I finally got around to listening to the audiobook for Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself. I appreciate that Alda was the narrator, as he already has such a great voice for narration. That being said, there are a few aspects of this book that were likely lost in the translation to audiobook format.

As a celebrity, Alan Alda was invited to speak at many graduation ceremonies for many decades. This book is a collection of some of the speeches he gave at these events. While there are certainly gems of wisdom spread throughout this book, many of the same points are reiterated from speech to speech, making it slightly repetitive after a while. Also, if you don't happen to agree with some of his political views, you might not find some of the speeches particularly interesting. Despite all this, if you can glean some useful advice out of these speeches, then it was worth the read.

One thing I had trouble distinguishing in the audiobook version was where the speeches started and ended and where Alda's reflections and asides started. I would occasionally notice an echo in the recording, which likely indicated that it was one of his speeches. I think the echo was trying to replicate the sensation of listening to Alda in a large space (like the ones used for graduations), but it was so faint as to be indistinguishable from the rest of the book. I appreciate the attention to detail, but it could have been a little stronger.

Some useful graduation advice from Alan Alda, I give Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Losing Hope
Hoover, Colleen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Losing Hope is about a guy named Dead Holder meeting a troubled girl named Sky. This book continues from Hopeless, a book in Sky's perspective. Losing Hope is in Dean's perspective, as it reveals the truth about Dean. We find out that Holder had been stressed about the girl because he couldn't save her from grave danger. Because of this, his life has been filled with guilt and anger over himself. This book was very interesting when I started to read, but when I kept going, I realized that it might be for an older and more mature age level, as there might be some things I don't completely understand. Also, it could be slightly disturbing to younger readers because of how Dean is addicted to stalking and searching for her, which is odd. I will probably continue reading the book when I'm older, so I could get the complete context of it. Overall, it's a very interesting book and good book for older readers.
Reviewer's age- 14

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
The Book of Lost Friends
Wingate, Lisa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was not necessarily easy to read but it was so well done:it juxtaposes the two time lines and the main characters with aplomb and great sustained suspense. 1888 vs 1988 racism and the differences and the shameful similarities. Fascinating characters, great plotting and page turning suspense. Thought provoking and a really good read. Really glad I read this.

Reviewer's Name: Susan I.

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