Other Award(s)

Book Review: Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis

Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis
Author: 
Henry, Patti Callahan
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

f you are a fan of C.S. Lewis, and perhaps were introduced to Joy Davidman through the movie, "Shadowlands", this in-depth look at her life, and struggles before she first began her correspondence with Lewis. Already a prolific poet and writer, Davidman was extremely well-educated and had been a child prodigy. This is an evocative account for her search for God, her quest for peace during a strained first marriage, and ultimately, coming to terms with the illness that took her life after finding fullflling love with C.S. Lewis. The book is well-researched, but is a novel that is written in the first person.

Reviewer's Name: 
Janet M.

Book Review: My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 1

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. Book One
Author: 
Ferris, Emil
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

A lot of people put down graphic novels as just comic books and many are little more than that. But there are a few that transcend this genre. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 1 is such an example. This debut novel by Emil Ferris tells the story of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, a girl growing up during the turbulent 1960s in Chicago. Reyes is an aspiring artist and her story is told in her perspective with detailed drawings filled with B-movie horror monsters from her beloved matinees, all sketched by a very talented schoolgirl with a Bic pen in her spiral notebook. Her neighborhood is a scary place and so is dealing with her mother's late-stage cancer and her older brother's drug-dealing and pimping. It's why Karen wishes she was a monster -- to be safe from those she sees in real life. As just a family drama, this novel delivers. Then this beautifully illustrated work of art reminiscent of Robert Crumb and Otto Dix, becomes so much more. The ever-curious Karen decides to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, a Holocaust survivor. That sudden plot twist turns this work into an historical epic, a detective story and a psychological thriller that garnered numerous industry accolades and award nominations worldwide. Vol. 1 is currently available through PPLD while Vol. 2, the conclusion of the story, is scheduled to be published in September 2021.
AWARDS: 2018 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album-New, Best Writer/Artist and Best Coloring; 30th Annual Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Graphic Novel.

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

Book Review: A Darkling Plain

A Darkling Plain
Author: 
Reeve, Philip
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

With the way Infernal Devices ended, I immediately knew there had to be a fourth book to finish this unique series. Few books resolve their respective series as well as A Darkling Plain does, which I can appreciate. In fact, the final epilogue was as beautiful as it was tragic. Along the way, the little loose ends tie up nicely so that all the characters are given some closure—whether or not they deserve it.

I wasn't wild with the time-skip tactic that Infernal Devices used since it basically split this series into two larger stories. Mortal Engines and Predator's Gold covered Hester and Tom's relationship, while the last two books covered their daughter's adventures. Of course, I was shocked with the ending of Infernal Devices, which did get an explanation in this book, even if it lessened the impact of that plot twist. That being said, some of the characters' fates were foreshadowed well ahead of this book, which left their ultimate fate somewhat anti-climactic.

Overall, I enjoyed how the idea of mobile cities eating each other in an evolutionary survival of the fittest came to its logical conclusion in this book. It's such a peculiar concept that was thoroughly explored in the previous three volumes so that this book could wrap up this phase in the post-apocalyptic timeline with enough room to give some hope for a future. After all, I have yet to run across a science fiction series that combines so many tropes so well and manages to conclude its complicated plotlines in such a satisfying way.

A satisfying ending of a unique series, I give A Darkling Plain 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher

The Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher
Author: 
Sapkowski, Andrzej
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Those of us who have seen Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher will find this collection of short stories quite familiar. The first book in the series, The Last Wish introduces the titular Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, as he goes about his job ridding the world of dangerous supernatural creatures. It’s no wonder the TV series felt a little disjointed, as it had a series of short stories that were loosely connected via Geralt to work with. Still, these stories are solid and help flesh out the world where humans and creatures live together, rarely in harmony.

Told in a somewhat chronological manner, these bite-size stories often carry over and blend into each other in a way that feels natural. Actions in one story may influence the characters in another, so there is something deeper here than just a collection of short stories. While this technique is rarely used, I can appreciate how each story has a purpose in advancing the main character's overall story. That being said, not every story is as enthralling as trying to save a noble’s daughter from a curse (which was one of the best in the set).

Part of why I like this method of storytelling is how simple it is. There’s no huge overarching and complex series of events here. The only character that matters is Geralt and how he reacts to the people around him and the jobs he takes to pay the bills. While additional characters like Yennefer or Ciri help to round out the series, focusing on the series’ namesake is important for building a foundation for world-building. I almost wish more series would take this route, as it helps establish the lore before diving into the first “official” book's main plot.

Great character foundation through multiple short stories, I give The Last Wish 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express
Author: 
Crhistie, Agatha
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Murder on the Orient Express is the story of detective Hercule Poirot who is taking the train the Orient Express when a man gets murdered on board. With the help of the the doctor and other staff members on board, Poirot plans to solve the murder before the train arrives at its destination and the murder is free to walk away.

This book is very well written and has many plot twists so you are constantly looking forward to what comes next. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery. It is fairly easy to understand and could be easily read by anyone 5th grade and up.

Reviewer's Name: 
Emily S.

Book Review: Storm Front

Storm Front: A Novel of the Dresden Files
Author: 
Butcher, Jim
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Jim Butcher brings to life a world filled with magic. This does not save Harry Dresden from very real problems - keeping up with rent, car troubles, and more. This gives the story a grounding in reality that makes aspects of it relatable, despite its focus on the supernatural. Dresden is stubborn, but he always tries to do the right thing. As he tries to solve multiple homicides and searches for a missing person, he finds there is something darker going on than he first believed. His race against the clock adds a thrill that makes the book hard to put down.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mark T.

Book Review: V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta
Author: 
Moore, Alan
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

V for Vendetta follows V as he fights against an authoritarian government and trains a successor. The book questions the cost of losing art, literature, and beauty in an attempt to create complete control over society. The art adds another dimension to the story, and the colors used in V's house compared to the outside world emphasize the underlying message. V's character is captivating because he possesses such knowledge and culture yet brings destruction. This leads readers to consider the necessity of violence to preserve culture. V's mask holds similarities to Guy Fawkes', and certain actions between the two are also similar, adding historical parallels to the story. V's strong ideals and actions to back them up lead him to become the face of a revolution but at what cost?

Reviewer's Name: 
Mark T.

Book Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One
Author: 
Cline, Ernest
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Ready Player One, a book by Ernest Cline, takes place in a dystopian future in 2045. The majority of the population spends most of their time inside a massive VR MMOSG, massively multiplayer online simulation game, called the Oasis. When the billionaire creator of the Oasis died, he left clues for an Easter Egg that he had hid in his game, and the first one who finds it gets his entire fortune. This story is about the adventure of Wade Watts, a kid from the Stacks in Columbus, Ohio, as he searches for that egg. This book is amazingly written, and you will be wanting to know what happens next as you read. You may have seen the movie, but the book is a masterpiece, the story is much richer, and definitely worth the read!

Reviewer's Name: 
Torin K.

Book Review: American Dirt

American Dirt
Author: 
Cummins, Jeanine
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I really enjoyed this book and the author's style and her ability to draw you in. She is very detailed in her descriptions with the main character's relationships and she causes you to become aware of issues in Mexico in a manner you may not have considered. While the book has received much criticism (you can research this), I think it is a worthy read to make us all want to dig deeper into the migrant situation.

Reviewer's Name: 
CJoos

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