Thursday, July 11, 2019

Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor





Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor


Reviewer: Julian E.
Stars: 3.5 stars

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Welcome to Night Vale is not your ordinary book. Much of what a reader would expect a book to read like is just simply not so in this novel. This, however, occurs in such a delightful manner. Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor present a bewilderingly peculiar yet highly enjoyable set of characters and plot within the mystical desert town known as Night Vale. something rather different, or to any fan of the original podcast. All in all, I give this book a 3.5 star rating, so definitely give it a try. I think you’ll like it.   

Jackie Fierro is not your every-day teenager. This is not because she’s a prodigy, or that she’s mature for her age, or that she is an early high school graduate, because she is none of those things. She is and has been, however, 19 years old for several decades and the owner of a pawnshop for just as long. Change does not bother to happen in Jackie’s life. Then, one fateful day, a shady customer approaches her, hands her a slip of paper, and vanishes. While this may be par-for-the-course in a town like Night Vale, something isn’t right about the slip and the man who gave it. 

But this isn’t the only strange occurrence happening within the town. Diane Crayton, the mother of a shape-shifting 15-year-old, has lately been seeing her son’s ex-father pop-up around the town. Whether that be as a police officer, waiter, city official, Diane strives to divert her son’s peeking interest in the identity of his father while simultaneously seeking to confront him herself. But that’s not all she has to worry about; a few of her co-workers seemingly disappear without a trace, leaving behind a wake of unsettling events. The plot of Welcome to Night Vale revolves around the intertwining of Jackie and Diane’s lives and their search for answers in the curious town of Night Vale. 

For how strange and sometimes confusing the story was to me, it usually managed to keep me interested with well-written characters and a fascinating world to discover and unfurl the mysteries of. Although, I found the aforementioned plot to be a little too nonsensical at times, which usually came up every instance the writers seemed to prioritize the novelty of their style of writing rather than focusing on maintaining continuity. This also affected my level of engagement, as the non-linear aspect of the story was disorienting. This may be due to the fact the book is based off of the pre-existing podcast by the same name, which might have covered a few details left untouched by the book. Despite my negative skew, I would still recommend this book purely based off of the sheer and immense whimsy of the backdrop as a whole. Night Vale seems like just such a fantastic place to explore and dive into, similar to the legendary Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter series. So more specifically, I recommend this to any reader seeking

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Reviewer: Mikayla P.
Stars: 4 stars

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Sadie is the enthralling story of teenager Sadie as she goes on a search to find her younger sister’s murderer. Mattie was Sadie’s world; every time their mom, wasted or high, disappeared to see another guy, Sadie picked up where their mom should have been. When Mattie disappeared one night and her body was found days later, Sadie’s world collapsed around her. Sadie switches points of view between Sadie herself, on the run and looking to avenge her sister, and “Girls,” a podcast that follows girls that have disappeared, as they track Sadie’s story later on. I read the novel, and though it took me a little bit to get used to the podcast as a written transcript, I was swept up enough in the story that I quickly forgot about it. I, myself, didn’t listen to the audiobook but one of my friends did and she told me that it’s one of the best she’s ever listened to. It includes a full cast of voice actors for everyone interviewed on “Girls” and makes it feel like you’re listening to a real podcast. While the story took a bit to pick up speed, once it did I couldn’t put it down. It was hauntingly real with, as stated on the Goodreads description of the book, “...an ending you won't be able to stop talking about.”

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Reviewer: Mikayla P.
Stars: 5 stars

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Despite Sarah J. Maas being my favorite author, I was hesitant to read Catwoman since I am not a superhero fan. After deciding to go for it, I can honestly say that I don’t regret one minute I spent reading it and would recommend it to Maas fans, superhero fans, and romance lovers alike. Although it is technically the third book in the series sponsored by DC, it is plenty capable of standing alone (I didn’t read any of the others). Despite being a superhero story, it deals with racial and monetary inequalities tastefully. My only complaint about it is that Selina, the main character, is very similar to, though not as developed as, Maas’s other characters. Beyond that, the world and plot are very unique, I absolutely adore the love interest as well as Selina’s friends. The plot is thrilling, fast-paced, and captivated my attention from the first page to the last. It’s not a particularly deep or developed plot or world but that keeps it from getting too slow or wordy. It’s not the best fantasy-style novel I’ve ever read, but I still loved every minute of it and it’s unique in that it’s a great standalone novel.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Reviewer: Mikayla P.
Stars: 5 stars

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Girls of Paper and Fire is set in a fantasy world loosely based off of ancient China. There is a rigid class system in place: the Moon Caste at the top (demons whose bodies are more animal than human), Steel Caste (demon/human hybrids), and Paper Caste (the fragile humans) at the bottom. Lei is a young Paper woman who grew up in a small village far from the action of the capital. Although the Paper Caste is incredibly oppressed, Lei’s village is so far from the cities that she and her father are able to live a happy and relatively undisturbed life. Until one day one of the Demon King’s soldiers arrives in the village to bring Lei to the capital, by any means necessary, in order for her to be a Paper Girl, one of the Demon King’s concubines. Girls of Paper and Fire is an astonishing journey undertaken by many young girls forced into a position considered incredibly honorable by society despite its inherent brutality and pain. Each girl is unique and strong in her own way, and despite being merely words on paper become living beings in the reader’s mind extremely quickly. The world is impeccable and the plot is endlessly breathtaking. Despite being a fast-paced adventure, the novel artfully deals with heavy topics such as racism, rape, and sexuality. Girls of Paper and Fire would be easily worth reading just for the world, just for the plot, just for the characters, or just for the romance. Combine all four and you have Ngan’s incredible masterpiece.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett


Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Reviewer: Mikayla P.
Star Rating: 5 stars


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I am often hesitant to rate any realistic fiction book five stars because, as much as I enjoy them, they blend together into the same story all too often. Starry Eyes stood out to me because of its unique nature in which the story focused almost solely on the characters and their interactions. Zorie and Lennon were best friends most of their lives until a year ago they became each other’s biggest enemies. Beyond just the two of them, their families also have an intense animosity. Both of them have made habits of avoiding each other (despite being neighbors), so when they end up stranded in the wilderness just the two of them after a camping trip goes awry, they have to find away to be friends again. As time progresses, it seems that both of them might want more than just friendship. Because the only external conflict in this novel is nature, I loved that the characters were extremely central to the plot. The character development was exquisite, as was the dialogue. All too often in YA romances, you can see the ending 30 pages in. And while I don’t hate that, Starry Eyes was a refreshing new story that I absolutely adored.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Reviewer: Mikayla P.
Star Rating: 5 stars!!!

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I would recommend Stalking Jack the Ripper (along with the rest of the series) to anyone, anytime, no matter what. It takes place in 1800s London and centers around the Jack the Ripper murders. Audrey Rose is an anomaly in upper-class British society: instead of delicately sipping tea and gossiping, she loves to study cadavers (dead bodies) with her uncle, the leading forensics scientist in London. With the onset of the murders, Audrey Rose is becoming increasingly involved in the process to solve the case, along with her uncle’s other apprentice: the gorgeous and absolutely infuriating Thomas Cresswell. I am not a fan of mystery novels or horror of any sort, so I’ll admit that I was skeptical about this books despite the hype surrounding it. I can safely say that it deserves every bit of praise it receives and then some. The characters are flawlessly written so that you feel like you’re losing your best friends when you close the book. They’re intricate, real, have their flaws and quirks, and are utterly relatable. Audrey Rose is a strong and vivacious female heroine but remains real even so--many female characters go from average high schooler to killing monsters in the blink of an eye, Audrey Rose is strong and brave but when confronted with dead bodies still requires a minute to get over her own squeamishness and fear. Thomas is delightful, the banter between the characters provides levity and endless laughter to an otherwise fairly dark story. The world is beautifully constructed and transports you to it with every clang of a scalpel on an examination table. I laughed, cried, and got angry with the characters each time I turned the page. The plot was thrilling and left me sleep deprived too many nights when I stayed up just to find out what happens next. The series only improves as it continues (three books are out now) though you certainly don’t need to read more than one to enjoy the thrilling ride they provide!

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Reviewer: Mikayla P.
Star Rating: 4 stars

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Carve the Mark takes place in a futuristic society in which humans have left Earth in search of more space to expand their race. On their journey to other galaxies, they discovered the current, a force that flows through everything and everyone, granting everyone a “currentgift,” or a “power” given to them by the current. Those gifted with the ability to tell the future become oracles and, in addition to predicting the immediate future, they declare fates, futures that belong to certain people that cannot be changed no matter what. Cyra and her brother, both the children of the leaders of the Shotet, a society on the planet Thuvhe, both have fates. Akos, the son of the oracle in the Thuvhesit society, the rival society to the Shotet on Thuvhe, and his siblings are also fated. Due to their unique fates, Cyra and Akos are brought together in an unlikely pairing, filled with passionate rage and a spark of something more. I loved that, despite being a science fiction novel by the author of Divergent, it was not set in a futuristic, dystopian society that can only be saved by the teenagers. The novel explores societal conflicts stemming from different religious and cultural practices, as well as a generational hatred for the “others” that turns out to be less fact-based than the characters originally believed. Despite enjoying the world however, it is important to note that, like Divergent, there is no scientific backing to the premise of this story. As long as you go into it expecting something between a fantasy novel and a science fiction, however, it doesn’t interfere with the story. It was a fast and entertaining read, though it did lack some substance and the characters were not as developed as they could have been. The plot was exciting, so I found certain major plot points to be beyond the realm of believability. Overall, however, Carve the Mark is the perfect read for anyone looking for a fast-paced, entertaining adventure!