Brief Book Reviews

I read a lot of books, and I intend to review a lot of them on this blog. Not only do I keep a Reading List of books I intend to read, but my library also helpfully keeps a list of all the books I have checked out.  Over the past year, I’ve read a lot of good books (and some bad ones), but I really don’t want to dedicate space for a full review of each.  So here are brief rating and comments for each (possible minor spoilers).

A general guide for ratings:

5/5–I would buy this
4/5–I will re-read this
3/5–I might read this again
2/5–I have no interest in reading this again
1/5–I couldn’t finish this

YA Fantasty

Princess Ben (Catherine Gilbert Murdock)  5/5–A fun adventure with a likeable protagonist
Wisdom’s Kiss  2/5–This companion is a trainwreck of too many viewpoints and unlikeable characters

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) 5/5–A dystopian page turner, destined to be a classic
Catching Fire 5/5–A nice sequel with some twists
Mockingjay 5/5–Not as enjoyable as the first two; Collins tries too hard to make the “arena” scenario fit a 3rd time.  The ending is pitch perfect.

Beastly (Alex Flinn) 4/5–I love “Beauty and the Beast” retellings, and this is a nicely modernized version

I am Number Four (Pittacus Lore) 4/5–A little bland (especially the love interest) but points for an interesting backstory, setting in Ohio, tons of action, and a dog named Bernie Kosar
The Power of Six 4/5–Great sequel, continues to introduce interesting characters

Matched/Crossed (Ally Condie) 3/5 for the series–Bland characters sink an interesting idea.  The Giver does it way better without the unnecessary love triangle. But I am planning on reading the 3rd one, Reached.

Entwined (Heather Dixon) 4.5/5–Nice take on “The 12 Dancing Princesses,” although I like Princess of the Midnight Ball better

The False Princess (Eilis O’Neal) 3/5–A nice twist on the standard princess theme; decent characters, plot, writing

Dragon Slippers/Dragon Flight/Dragon Spear (Jessica Day George) 5/5 for the series (the first is my favorite)–These books are more for middle-grade readers, but are really enjoyable thanks to a kick-butt protagonist (among other awesome characters), great writing, and dragons

The Silver Bowl and Bella at Midnight (Diane Stanley) 4/5 for both–Again, more for middle-grades.  Good writing and characters. “Bella” is a nice reworking of the Cinderella story.

Warped (Maurissa Guibord) 2.5/5–A fairly generic fantasy with bland characters

A Tale of Two Castles (Gail Carson Levine) 4/5–Much better than Levine’s last few efforts. Great characters and a mysterious plot with twists.

Pegasus (Robin McKinley) 2/5–Not my favorite McKinley. Struggled to get through this; I assume there will be a sequel based on the extremely sudden ending.

Shipbreaker (Paolo Bacigalupi) 5/5–More dystopia; great characters and conflict

Tuesdays at the Castle (Jessica Day George) 5/5–Keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel; these characters are just too good for just one book!

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Patricia Wrede) 5/5–A witty female protagonist and dragons; can’t ask for more. (But who names their kid Daystar?  Really?)


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot) 5/5–A MUST READ for any scientist.  I work with cell lines all the time and never had any clue about what is written in this book.  Some of the science may be too technical for some readers, but the Lacks family’s story is really what shines.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan) 5/5–To be honest, I had to check this book out two or three time before I finished it.  But it was worth it.  Totally changed how I think about food.

The Wilder Life (Wendy McClure) 2/5–The author wants to see how Laura Ingalls Wilder lived, because obviously her life was much more interesting than the author’s.  It was just an ok read, and that’s from someone who loves Little House. The books, not the TV show.


The Help (Kathryn Stockett) 3/5–In a rare turn of events, I liked the movie better.  It was more focused.

The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) 5/5–Narrated by Death and set in Nazi Germany, this book a life-changer.  Like I felt about The Giver in 6th grade.  This is the only book from this list that made me cry, and oh, boy was I sobbing at the end.

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern) 3/5–This book sets an incredible tone and atmosphere (I can’t wait for a movie), but the lovely visuals are hampered by a vague plot and slightly limp protagonists.  It’s her first novel and it shows.

The Three Musketeers (Alexandre Dumas) 4/5–Haha, I honestly didn’t know that this book is actually about FOUR musketeers.  Great characters and a slightly crazy plot keep it entertaining, both serious and light in the right places.

A Game of Thrones/A Clash of Kings (George R. R. Martin) 3.5/5 for both–These two books took me months to read, and I am glad I did,  but too much graphic sex, violence, and politics for my taste.  A few truly excellent characters will keep me plugging through this series.

Austenland (Shannon Hale) 4/5–A fun, well-written rom com.  Recommended for any Austen fans.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson) 4/5–The characters and “mystery” aspects of this book were really excellent and had me hooked.  However, as a thriller it was a little too intense for my taste, and has put me off reading the other two books until I am in the mood for something so dark.

The Lions of Al-Rassan (Guy Gavriel Kay) 4/5–Interesting characters in a fictional setting of Moorish Spain

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