Feb 27, 2021

It is France, 1714, and a young French village girl named Addie kneels on the forest floor on the eve of her wedding and prays for freedom from an arranged marriage. She forgets, though, that it is after dark, and the gods that answer after dark never play fair. In a moment of desperation, she makes a bargain with the devil himself — freedom to wander, to explore, to dream, but with one catch: she will be forgotten by everyone she meets. However, three hundred years later, Addie’s life is turned upside down when she walks into a bookstore in New York City and the owner, a boy with a broken

Feb 26, 2021

Janella Angeles’s Where Dreams Descend follows ambitious showgirl Kallia as she fights to compete for a spot as the headlining magician of the Conquering Circus.

The competition takes place in Glorian, a city full of secrets. While competing, Kallia encounters Daron Demarco, the enigmatic young judge with a hidden past. Kallia, too, wishes to forget her past — but Jack, the owner of the club she left for the competition, won’t let her get away so easily.

The stakes rise as the competition continues, with mysterious disappearances and sabotaged acts, until it’s clear that someone — or

Feb 25, 2021

Nightshade is the twelfth installment of the Alex Rider series. When a secret agent is killed by a ruthless 16-year-old assassin in Brazil, teenage MI6 spy Alex Rider is sent to Gibraltar, a maximum-security prison, assuming the identity of his lookalike nemesis, Julius Grief. His mission? To bond with and extract information from the assassin, Freddy. However, things take an unexpected turn, and Alex finds himself infiltrating a mysterious, sinister organization known as Nightshade.

This Alex Rider novel was quite good. It was easy to read, and the pacing was excellent, as expected. In

Feb 24, 2021

Just Mercy is a first-person account of Bryan Stevenson, a black lawyer, who helps prisoners that did not receive fair trials as part of a non-profit organization. Stevenson writes about various clients that he has worked for over the years and how the justice system has failed them.

Living in Johnson County, racism and prejudice can seem like a distant thing. Just Mercy is so powerful because it uses stats and facts to show just how prevalent it really is. This book is one of my favorites because it opened my eyes to the failings of our justice system. These tragedies of cases were

Feb 23, 2021

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra is a comedy/tragedy following the adventures of Alonso Quixano, aka Don Quixote. Enchanted by the stories of medieval knights, Don decides, to go out, with his neighbor and squire, Sancho, into the world and imitate the stories of chivalry that he so adores.

Don Quixote is a lengthy story, spanning over 900 pages. This is part of why I gave this book a 3 out of 5 rating. Even though the book is mostly mini stories, this book length will initially scare off readers, and for good reason. There are also 2 parts to the story, Part 1being much more

Feb 22, 2021

The Bird and The Blade is set in the ancient Mongolian empire. Jinghua, our protagonist, is a slave in the Khipkhak Khanate, that is, until the kingdom is taken over by enemy forces and the only people able to escape are the Khan (King), the prince, and Jinghua. Together they journey across the kingdom, fleeing pursuing forces. With no other options, Khalaf plans to marry Turandokht, the cunning and beautiful daughter of the Great Khan. Easier said than done. Around 20 men that had similar intentions are already dead, killed by Turandokht’s riddles. There are three of them in total and each

Feb 21, 2021

Loki: Where Mischief Lies expands off of the popular character from the Marvel Universe, following Loki in his misadventures on Midgard (or Earth, as we know it) far before the events of the first Thor movie and The Avengers.

Loki has always known that either he or his brother, Thor, will be chosen as the next king of Asgard and the Nine Realms. In order to be chosen, Loki must prove himself worthy, but all his attempts to do so land him in trouble, while his brother is lauded for what should be considered failures. Loki befriends Amora, a sorceress in training, but when one of their

Feb 20, 2021

Twelve-year-old orphan Max Einstein is a smart girl. She has a brain just as big and creative as the legend Einstein. She loves Einstein and has a passion for him. She is living above a horse’s stall, and learning at a college. One day she is taken to the CMI: Change Makers Institution, and is chosen to become a team leader to save the world. Max and her friends go to a place trying to solve the problems in cities around the world. But, the problem is that Dr. Zimm and his team, Corp, is trying to find Max Einstein, and take her away from the CMI. Do you think that Corp will find Max Einstein

Feb 19, 2021

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ​The Great Gatsby​ is a work of art. Set in the roaring 20s in New York, the novel follows Nick Carraway as he unravels the truth about his neighbor, Jay Gatsby, his cousin  Daisy, and everyone else surrounding his new apartment in West Egg. For the first six chapters of this novel, I didn’t understand the hype, but I was sold by the end.

While I didn’t love this book quite as much as I expected to, I still really liked it. Fitzgerald’s language is perfection, and the plot is beautifully crafted. Somehow, Fitzgerald managed to write a book where I didn’t like a single

Feb 18, 2021

The second book in Veronica Roth's ​Divergent​ series, ​Insurgent​, is good, but it's underwhelming compared to its predecessor. As a war between the factions surges, Tris must make harsh decisions to save the people around her. This book was a rollercoaster, and while it wasn't boring by any means, it didn't quite capture my attention as ​Divergent ​did. I enjoyed Tris' realness; she is filled with flaws, but she is also brilliant, caring, and brave. Furthermore, I appreciated how realistic Tris and Tobias' relationship was; they had their fair share of ups and downs and share a significant

Feb 17, 2021

Happily Ever After​ is a companion novel to ​The Selection​ series by Kiera Cass. The first story, “The Queen​,” tells how King Clarkson and Queen Amberly fell in love. Their relationship is very toxic; his tests were controlling and not justifiable because he didn't want to marry someone vain. The second story included, ​“The Prince.”​ retells the beginning of the Selection from Maxon's perspective. This one didn't add much to the series, but it was interesting to know that Maxon thought of America as a challenge and wanted to pursue her from the moment they met. As for “The Guard​,” it was

Before by Anna Todd


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Feb 16, 2021

Before is the final book of Anna Todd’s After series. This book gives some insight into a few of the characters’ lives before After takes place and provides a retelling of the beginning and end of Tessa and Hardin’s relationship through Hardin’s point of view.

This book wasn’t as entertaining as the others in the series, and Todd’s writing seemed to have regressed into what it was in After, after her writing seemingly improved in the other books. Despite that, it was interesting to peek into Hardin’s mind while the events of After were taking place; getting to fully understand his

Feb 15, 2021

Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a novel about a group of boys stranded on an island all by themselves. The novel explores the human mind and how everyone has the capacity to commit atrocities, and all that they need is a push in the right direction.

The story mainly follows Ralph and his friend Piggy, with a bunch of other characters. The boys are stranded on an island after surviving a plane crash, with no adults or signs or civilization. Ralph is designated as the leader of the group, and orders a fire to be continuously burning in order to be rescued. However, this peace doesn’t

Feb 14, 2021

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is a companion book to Holly Black’s Folk of the Air series, this time following High King Cardan, one of the series’ more compelling characters. The timeline of this book spans from events before The Cruel Prince to events occurring after The Queen of Nothing, so it’s necessary to read all three books in the series in order to understand the events of this book (and avoid spoilers, of course).

Off the bat, this book stands apart from the rest of the series. Not quite hitting 200 pages, the book is significantly shorter than the main three

Feb 13, 2021

Written by John Knowles, ​A Separate Peace​ is a realistic fiction story about a boy named Gene who attends boarding school in New England and is set during the years of World War II. The plot mainly follows Gene and his best friend Phineas. Gene is quiet, inverted and an intellectual. Phineas is everyone’s favorite person; he is athletic, charming, and a daredevil. The two are complete opposites but could be described as “inseparable.” Although, they struggle with their friendship as certain events unfold through the story.

Overall it was a simple story with a strong message. This is very

Feb 12, 2021

This next installment in The Hunger Games series follows now 17-year-old Katniss Everdeen as she struggles with the aftermath of her victory in the 74th Hunger Games. The foundations of this mighty and cruel country shake as districts prepare to revolt, apparently encouraged by Katniss’s stunt with the berries that led to her victory. A personal visit from President Snow frightens Katniss, and she must decide if she wants to try to stop the uprisings or join them. She must also think of her future and decide who she wants more: Gale or Peeta. However, the Capitol has a horrifying surprise

Caraval by Stephanie Garber


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Feb 11, 2021

Scarlett has dreamed of attending Caraval, a performance of sorts, for her whole life.  Unfortunately, her abusive father has not only forced her to remain on her home island but will soon require her to participate in an arranged marriage.  Shortly before said marriage, Scarlett receives a letter from Caraval Master Legend himself, inviting her to the upcoming Caraval.  With her sister, Tella, and Tella’s boyfriend, Scarlett runs away from home to attend the event.  However, as audience participation is quintessential, her sister is stolen upon their arrival.  Scarlett is left to determine

Feb 10, 2021

The Republican War on Science​ is a nonfiction novel detailing the falsification of scientific evidence by the Republican Party written by Washington Post reporter Chris Mooney. This book relays several examples of Republicans falsifying, hiding, or cherry-picking scientific information to promote their own purposes, most of which come from the Bush administration. As expected, this book is clearly biased, but that didn’t make the information any less intriguing. Some topics mentioned are stem-cell research, sex education, reproductive rights, and climate change.

However much I enjoyed

Feb 9, 2021

In 1893, witch trials are rampant, especially in the town of New Salem.  Juniper, Agnes, and Bella are three sisters bound together by magic after years of separation.  While having to work through buried conflicts with themselves and each other, these sisters realize how magic and witchcraft are on the brink of extinction.  Together, these sisters work with witches in the town of New Salem to combat the misogyny and anti-witch attitudes that dominate New Salem society, all the while learning the value of their own witching abilities and womanhood.

The most compelling aspect of the book was

Feb 8, 2021

Veronica Roth’s ​Divergent​, the first series in her trilogy of the same name, is a young adult dystopian novel. At this time, society is split into five factions, each based around a core value. Beatrice Prior’s initiation ceremony is arriving soon now that she’s sixteen, and she’ll have to choose between remaining in the faction she was born into or joining one of the others. After making her choice, Beatrice, nicknamed Tris, must navigate training, initiation, and relationships with her peers and family. On top of everything else, Tris must keep a dangerous secret as the world she has

Feb 7, 2021

How About Never--is Never Good for You? ​is Bob Mankoff’s engrossing memoir that focuses primarily on his experiences as a cartoonist and editor of The​ New Yorker​ magazine. Wryly funny and a little tongue-in-cheek, this book is a quick and enjoyable tidbit. The story initially focuses on Bob Mankoff’s life, but gradually shifts to his professional experiences and the cartoons of The New Yorker​. As someone who has never read nor thought much about The New Yorker ​and its comics, ​How About Never--is Never Good for You? ​provided a fascinating introduction into that world. The book not only

Feb 6, 2021

After Ever Happy​ is the final book in the ​After ​series written by Anna Todd. This book follows Tessa and Hardin as they adjust to living in different states to get space from one another and experience personal growth. This book had a different vibe than the rest of the series; it had more of a somber tone than the others, which I didn’t love. Second, in this book, Tessa and Hardin finally get themselves together, and their decisions become more logical. However, their rational decisions made this book less captivating than its predecessors because it was the illogical drama that made the

Feb 5, 2021

After We Fell​, the third installment of Anna Todd’s ​After​ series, might just be the best book in the series. Tessa and Hardin learn to live separately and travel to England for Hardin’s mom’s wedding. Throughout all of this, Hardin and Tessa actually seem to learn how to communicate for the most part, and a lot of drama arises surrounding both Hardin and Tessa’s parents. Along with all of this, secrets and lies continue to unfold as all of Hardin and Tessa’s friends’ intentions come into question. Despite all of the negativity revealed throughout the book, Hardin and Tessa’s relationship

Feb 4, 2021

After We Collided​ is the second book in Anna Todd’s ​After ​series. This book really isn’t anything different from its predecessor except that it’s slightly better. In this book, Tessa and Hardin changed a little bit; Tessa became slightly more annoying with her inability to use commonsense, and I was happy to see Hardin actually express some emotion for once.

Beyond that, this story continues to be extremely frustrating since most of Tessa and Hardin’s issues could be solved if they just had an actual conversation. Despite the ongoing problems with this series, Todd had me hooked the

Feb 3, 2021

Lovely War​ by Julie Berry is a romance and historical fiction novel that follows the lives of four individuals during World War I, told from the perspective of Aphrodite (goddess of passion and love). Hazel, James, Colette, and Aubrey’s paths cross by mere circumstance, and with Aphrodite’s help, beautiful relationships are formed. As time passes, the perils of war threaten to interfere with the romances and friendships. Will the power of love be enough to salvage the fates of these individuals, or will the war be the demise of their relationship?

Although I am typically not a huge fan of

Sadie by Courtney Summers


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Feb 2, 2021

Sadie is a dual-narrative book following Sadie Hunter, a 19-year-old girl on the hunt to find the man who killed her sister, and West McCray, the radio personality tracing her footsteps for a true-crime podcast.

Sadie’s 13-year-old sister, Mattie, went missing and was later found dead. The police have no suspects, but Sadie has one, and she’s determined to find him.

West’s chapters, alternating with Sadie’s, take place later; Sadie is missing, her car found hundreds of miles from home with her belongings still inside. West’s goal is to find Sadie and uncover what really happened to

Feb 1, 2021

Kiera Cass's fifth and final installment of ​The Selection​ series, ​The Crown​, wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst. I have a few problems with this book, the major one being the development of Eadlyn and Eikko's relationship, or lack thereof. Their relationship was predictable, but it had no growth; it seemed like they just kind of ended up together. Maxon's character change in this book also bothered me; the Maxon from the previous books would never have given the kingdom over to his barely of age daughter just so he wouldn't have to bear the stress of running a kingdom anymore.


Cover photo of the book After


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Jan 31, 2021

Anna Todd's ​After​, a contemporary young adult romance based on Harry Styles fanfiction, gives me mixed emotions. Tessa has been picture perfect her whole life, but when she goes to college and meets British bad boy Hardin, she starts to change her ways. First off, Tessa and Hardin's relationship is entirely toxic; during most of their interactions, they're drunk, lying, fighting, or using each other as a distraction. Second, if their relationship's toxicity wasn't enough, Tessa and Hardin's dialogue is super awkward about 75% of the time. Lastly, this book is full of atrocious writing; it

Jan 30, 2021

This young-adult novel is about a sixteen-year-old redhead, named America Singer, who was chosen to be a part of the Selection where she will compete to win the heart of the charming prince. Most girls would be ecstatic about such an opportunity, but not America. She already has her life planned out for herself, and she is fearful that this will ruin her chances of having a future with Aspen, her secret love.

This book is a perfect choice for anyone who enjoys drama, suspense, or sappy romance novels. Though this book ended up being pretty cheesy towards the end, I did find that it was one

Cover photo of the book Majesty


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Jan 29, 2021

Majesty is the second book of the American Royals series, where America is ruled by a monarchy, so warning: spoilers ahead. Now that her father is dead, Beatrice must learn how to rule her upset nation and manage her increasingly complicated love life. Meanwhile, Samantha and Nina need to get over their recent heartbreak, but for Daphne moving on is not an option. Like always, she’ll stop at nothing to get Jeff back. Majesty is full of drama, love, and emotion. 

Hope you didn’t grow too attached to the characters in the first book because McGee decides that nothing about them is worth