Mythology

Book Review: Lovely War

Book Cover
Author: 
Berry, Julie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Lovely War by Julie Berry is such a wonderful book about two couples in the tragic and terrible days of WWI as narrated by the Greek Gods. I chose Lovely War because of my interest in historical fiction, especially historical
romances, and was not disappointed by this amazing story. The book centers on four young people who's path's cross during WWI-- British Hazel Windicott, a pianist, and James Alderidge, a would-be architect shipped off to war, Colette Fournier, a Belgian singer who lost her family at the hands of the Germans, and Aubrey Edwards, a black American solider in a jazz military band in a time of military prejudice and racial discrimination. Hazel and James meet and fall in love days before he is shipped off to the Front to face deadly combat in the WWI trenches. Distraught over the fate of James, Hazel, eager to help the war effort, enlists as a pianist at a volunteer job and meets Colette, a fellow volunteer. They become very close friends, and Colette begins to fall in love with charismatic Aubrey, who's jazz is redefining the world of music. What follows is a beautifully written novel about these four characters, their hardships, and loves.

This book is structured interestingly-- the story of these two parallel loves is narrated by the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, who tells the tale years later in the days of WWII to her husband, Hephaestus, god of fire and volcanos, and a few other gods to remind them what true love is and the transcendent power of love over war. The story is funny, heartbreaking, intense, and overall, beautiful. I felt as if I knew Hazel, James, Aubrey and Colette personally by the time the story is over. Julie Berry's prose is almost poetic in it's splendor, rich with meticulous descriptions about wartime France and Britain.


This book deals with elements of WWI I did not know about-- Germany's brutal and heartbreaking invasion of Belgium, and the prejudice and racial discrimination in the U.S army during WWI. I wasn't a huge fan of the
inclusion of the Greek Gods as narrators at first-- the story is strong enough to stand without it-- and until the very end, the purpose of the Gods in the story is almost irrelevant. I would have been interested to know if Berry ever had a draft of the story sans-Gods. However, reflecting back on the book, the Gods add another tier to the rich narrative, one that is appreciated more after the novel is over. That said, I know that that
inclusion was to make the book more accessible to teenage readers. Fans of Greek epics and the Percy Jackson series will enjoy the inclusion of them Gods.

The central romance and characters in this book are Hazel and James, and their relationship and connection is deeper than Colette's and Aubrey's until the end of the story. Berry dedicates more time to the relationship of Hazel and James, and it is the best story line as a result. I wish Colette and Aubrey's story would have been given more attention, as it is truly unique and unlike anything I've read, but the last pages of the book focuses solely on them which I enjoyed.

This book never lacks action and is a very quick read. I often had to remind myself to slow down so not to rush through it! Lovely War is written for teenagers, but is just as accessible for tweens and adults, truly making it a book for all ages. Lovely War is one of those special books that you read and know that your perception of the world will be changed because of it. I cannot stress how much I recommend this beautiful book. It is a marvel of the historical fiction, romance and mythology genres that everyone should read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Allie S.

Book Review: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief
Author: 
Riordan, Rick
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I have just re-read 'the Lightning Thief' by Rick Riordan for probably the twentieth time because it is so amazing.
In this book, Percy Jackson starts to notice strange things happening in his life at boarding school. When he gets kicked out of the boarding school he starts to notice weird things are happening in his life. Things start to get even stranger on his beach trip with his mom. Percy soon finds himself face to face with the real-life Minotaur. What will he do when the monster captures his mother?
I would give this book 6 stars out of 5. Truly worth the read.. and the several re-reads after that. The beginning of a lovely series for any age.

Reviewer's Name: 
Lillian L.

Book Review: Race to the Sun

Book Review: Race to the Sun
Author: 
Roanhorse, Rebecca
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Nizhoni Begay is a normal seventh grader in many respects, minus the thing where she can see monsters. One day, she gets home from school to see a monster in her kitchen masquerading as her dad's potential boss. Sure enough, the boss-monster kidnaps her dad, and Nizhoni, her brother Max and their best friend Davery take off on a race to the House of the Sun to find weapons they can use to defeat the boss-monster and save Nizhoni's dad.

I really liked this one! All of Rick Riordan's books and the books on his imprint have something of a sameness to them, but that's not necessarily a bad thing (I'd compare it to the Marvel Cinematic Universe). You know you're going to get a snarky teenager narrating an epic quest to save the world where they'll be attacked non-stop by monsters from some sort of mythology. That's what you get here, but its the Navajo edition. I liked it a lot - I think it helps when the mythology being referenced originated more or less in your backyard, and as a Coloradan, it was a lot of fun to read. Plus, the mythology itself is just cool; Black Jet Girl, Spider Woman, and Crystal Rock Boy were particularly fun.

For readers who like mythology, action, adventure and snarky main characters. I really enjoyed this one, and will add this series to the list of books I listen to while I run! 4 stars - I really liked it.

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchanged for an unbiased review. Race to the Sun will be released on 14 January, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: Good Omens

Book Cover
Author: 
Pratchett, Terry & Gaiman, Neil
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book contains a captivating world in which angels and demons exist, and there are two in particular we follow who roam the Earth. Their goal: to stop the apocalypse. Their respective sides endeavor for the apocalypse to occur, but the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley have grown very fond of Earth.
The story follows several humans as well, including the Witchfinder Newton Pulsifer, the witch Anathema Device, and the Them. It also follows the story of the Antichrist, and the four horsemen. It is an absolutely spellbinding read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Settare R

Book Review: The Guinevere Deception

Book Review: The Guinevere Deception
Author: 
White, Kiersten
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Premise: Guinevere died in the convent where she'd been sent by an her father. An imposter, Merlin's daughter and Arthur's new protector, is her replacement, and all have been fooled into thinking she's the "real" Guinevere, save Arthur, who she immediately marries and starts to protect.

I found the beginning of the book, with its delicious hints of a larger story of evil and darkness, to be captivating. Unfortunately, those hints, for the most part, stay hints, and the book ended up being a pretty predictable retelling of sorts that was paradoxically too faithful and not faithful enough to its predecessors. It had glimpses of the humor from Mallory, T. H. White and Steinbeck. It had the promise of the adventure that lies in those tales. It just never fully delivered. And the end, when it finally came, was predictable enough to be a bit disappointing.

That said, I do love Arthurian legend, and this version of Guinevere is not without promise. If the next entry gets great reviews, I'll give it a go as my familiarity with the characters and story would render a re-read unnecessary. 3 stars. I...liked it? I'll recommend it to younger readers new to the legend.

Thanks to Netgalley and Delacorte for the advance copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Guinevere Deception will be on sale on 05 November, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King
Author: 
White, T.H.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Once and Future King, by T. H. White, is a great fantasy classic that is a retelling of the saga of King Arthur. The novel is stuffed with a mix of wonderful emotions that blend together to make a very unique fantasy story. The characters are all developed very well, especially the protagonist, and the plot fits them very well. The book has some very sorrowful scenes, but does a fantastic job of spacing them out with its humor. The only downside to the book is that it is for high-level readers.

If the story was put into a bit simpler language, it would relate to more people and reduce the amount of strain placed on the readers' mind while trying to interpret it. Overall, The Once and Future King is a great fantasy novel, but its use of complicated language takes away from the world it creates.

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven L

Book Review: Soul of the Sword

Soul of the Sword cover
Author: 
Kagawa, Julie
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Soul of the Sword picks up directly at the end of the events of the first book in the series, Shadow of the Fox. If you haven’t read Shadow of the Fox, and you like Japanese mythology, what are you waiting for? Pick it up now! Also, skip this review, because spoilers.

If you liked the first book, you’ll like this one too. I did not remember the first book that well as I read it last summer, but Kagawa writes this in such a way that it’s easy for the reader to jump right back in. Most of our characters (save Tatsumi, because he’s mostly a demon now) get further development, and Yumeko in particular really seems to have grown a lot throughout the course of the book. My favorite character, the ronin Okame, has an exceptionally fun development. The worldbuilding, which was fantastic in the first book, continues to be alluring as Kagawa further fleshes out what was already a well-drawn world. The plot, like the first book, is fast-paced and while this is definitely something of a bridge book, it’s a bridge book that is really fun to read.

Readers of Rick Riordan who are looking for something a little more grown-up, or folks who like their fantasy to be steeped in mythology, you won’t go wrong with this series. I’m excited for the next one to come out. 4 stars – I really liked it!

Thanks to Harlequin Teen & Netgalley for the advance copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Soul of the Sword will be available for purchase on 18 June or you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief
Author: 
Riordan, Rick
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In the first book of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Lightning Thief, Percy the protagonist has been accused of stealing Zeus’ Lightning bolt. Percy must get it back to avoid all out war among the gods. Along the way he makes some new friends and meets some strange characters.

This book is one of the best books I have ever read. This book is very unpredictable. My favorite types of books are the ones that are unpredictable and this one has one of the best twist ever in a book. This book did well in the bookstores and was made into a movie. However, in my opinion, the book is substantially better than the movie. The book has lots more parts that are really funny and the movie leaves out great parts of the story. I would recommend this to anyone interested in mythology as it is based on Greek gods and their over the top stories. Yet, this is an excellent book and is good for almost everyone, even if you are not a Greek mythology expert because it is pretty easy to follow along.

Reviewer grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexander M

Book Review: We Hunt the Flame

We Hunt the Flame Review
Author: 
Faizal, Hafsah
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Zafira has gained respect amongst her community for being the only person brave enough to dare the forest of a the Arz – a rapidly growing magical forest from which most who enter don’t return. She’s known as the Hunter. However, all respect Zafira has gained would be lost if folks were to find out that she was a girl. Nasir has a name of his own: Prince of Death. He assassinates all who cross his autocratic, despotic father, no matter how he feels on the subject. As the Arz grows and resources get more scare, both Zafira and Nasir find themselves on a journey to find a magical relic long buried on a dangerous island long presumed lost.

Another nearly impossible to write description! The worldbuilding in this thing is complex, and its really hard to give a short summary of the plot outside of “awesome” girl and scary-but-hot boy go on a quest for a magical object. While I do love complex worldbuilding, it bogged down the story for the first 40% of the book, and I kept getting confused by which peoples had what characteristics if they weren’t the peoples of our main two protagonists. Speaking of our two main protagonists, they were the least interesting characters in the story. Zafira is your standard strong-but-still-insecure-attracted-to-the-bad-boy YA fantasy protagonist, and Nasir kills people for no reason. The author tries to describe it away (his girlfriend will be brutally tortured), but this guy kills hundreds of people to (maybe) spare the lives of a few. Utilitarian he is not.

Anyway, after a lot of labored worldbuilding, we finally get to the island and team up with some other folks on the same quest. After this, the book is a lot of fun for about 30%. The characters have great chemistry, and the new ones are all dynamic and interesting people (beings) who we learn about slowly through the switching perspectives of our main characters. There’s a heist vibe and some great chemistry between friends and enemies alike . If that section had been the whole book, you would be reading a very different review. However, unfortunately, the book then focuses on a romance between our two leads, and I never found it to be convincing or compelling.

TLDR: This book was so close to being a really fun read, but a forced romance between two largely un-compelling leads overcame my love of the supporting characters, their chemistry, and some really fun worldbuilding elements.

I think folks who liked The Gilded Wolves or the Throne of Glass series will find things to like here. For this reader, it was mostly a miss. 2 stars – it was ok.

Thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Netgalley for the eARC which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. We Hunt the Flame will be available for purchase on 14 May, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

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